Fund manager Neil Woodford announces comeback

Alexander Britton, PA

Neil Woodford, the star City fund manager who fell from grace when his Woodford Equity Income Fund was wound up, has apologised for his actions as he announced he will be setting up a new firm.

The billion-pound fund was gated in June 2019 after a run of poor results led to an investor exodus.

But as Mr Woodford and his team had bought stakes in so many unlisted companies, selling the assets was extremely difficult.

It was later wound up and Link Fund Solutions, which has sold off assets from the fund to return cash to investors, started paying out last January.

Now, Mr Woodford has broken his silence and told the Sunday Telegraph he did not want events in 2019 to be “the epitaph of my career”.

His new venture, Woodford Capital Management Partners, is preparing for launch and Mr Woodford said he would not be putting ordinary investors’ cash into illiquid start-ups.

He told the paper: “If you’re going to run retail money these days you can’t have an investment strategy that tilts a portfolio too far away from a very liquid, very FTSE mid-250 portfolio.

“If I was running retail funds in future I wouldn’t mingle unquoted assets in a retail fund.”

Equity income funds are normally bought into by amateurs who ask a fund manager to invest in different businesses for them.

But, from reportedly being worth £10.2 billion in May 2017, the fund struggled to plug holes as investors pulled out around £10 million every day.

By the time it was suspended, the Woodford fund was only worth £3.7 billion.

Mr Woodford said he warned Link Fund Solutions against closing the fund and said had investors stuck with him they would be “enjoying the fruits of that faith”.

Saying he was “very sorry for what I did wrong”, he added: “I can’t be sorry for the things I didn’t do. I didn’t make the decision to suspend the fund, I didn’t make the decision to liquidate the fund. As history will now show, those decisions were incredibly damaging to investors and they were not mine.”

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