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Neil Woodford returns with new fund and says “sorry”

neil_woodfordNeil Woodford is to set up another investment firm over a year on since his flagship equity fund was shut down due to liquidity issues that left many investors out of pocket.

He told The Sunday Telegraph that he was “sorry” for what had happened, which caused big losses for investors and the ultimate collapse of his fund management empire.

Woodford will now take up the role of chief investment officer of offshore investment firm WCM Partners, working alongside Acacia Research which bought the unquoted life science portfolio in Woodford Equity Income fund. 

When the fund was hit by a wave of withdrawal requests, Woodford struggled to sell its unquoted life science investments, it has been reported. 

“I'm very sorry for what I did wrong. What I was responsible for was two years of underperformance - I was the fund manager, the investment strategy was mine, I owned it and it delivered a period of underperformance,” Woodford told The Sunday Telegraph.

He also blamed Link Fund Solutions (LFS), the company’s administrator, for closing the fund too soon as various shares in pharmaceutical companies have since seen an improvement in performance due to the pandemic.

"I didn't make the decision to suspend the fund, I didn't make the decision to liquidate the fund,” he said in the interview, adding that Link’s decision was “damaging” for investors. 

A spokesperson for LFS said that any suggestion Woodford Investment Management (WIM) was not aware of the possibility of suspension is "incorrect".

"The decision to suspend the fund, which WIM did not object to, was taken to protect all investors in the fund following a sustained period of underperformance and an increased level of redemptions," they said. 

“However, insufficient progress was made by WIM, following the suspension, in repositioning the fund to allow it to be reopened, and, as a result, the decision was taken by Link Fund Solutions Limited (LFSL) to move the fund into an orderly wind-up.  This again was considered to be in the best interests of all investors."

Woodford was removed as investment manager of his flagship equity fund towards the end of 2019 following its suspension and eventual closure. 

WCM Partners, based in Jersey, will advise on a portfolio of life sciences company holdings for Acacia Research.

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