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Woodford fund to remain closed for at least another month

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02/07/2019
Neil Woodford’s suspended Equity Income fund will remain closed for at least another month, leaving thousands of investors without access to their savings.

In a statement on Monday, the fund’s authorised corporate director Link Fund Solutions said it “remains in the best interests of all investors in the fund to continue the suspension”.

It said investors can expect another update before 29 July.

However, in a video posted on Woodford Investment Management’s website, the veteran manager said there was “no prescribed time limit” on how long the suspension, which came into force on 3 June, would last.

Woodford was forced to suspend trading in his flagship fund after a stampede of investors requested their money back following a long period of underperformance.

The fund, which at its peak held £10bn of assets, experienced outflows of roughly £9m every working day in May.

A statement from Woodford IM said Link’s decision to continue with the suspension “affords Neil and the team the required time to execute the changes to the portfolio that we have outlined previously”.

It said when the suspension is lifted, the fund will have “less exposure to illiquid stocks”.

“When the fund reopens, you will see a much more liquid portfolio, but one that reflects the same investment strategy. The portfolio will continue to be focused on undervalued companies, but the majority of them will be FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 index constituents.”

While the suspension means investors cannot get their hands on their cash, their money is still invested in the stocks held by the fund – though performance continues to be poor.

Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at AJ Bell, said: “Performance since the suspension 4 weeks ago has continued to disappoint with the fund falling 4% based in the indicative price provided by Link, the fund administrator, while the FTSE All Share is up over 3%, perhaps indicating how the selling pressure is impacting the price of the small and illiquid holdings, despite Woodford’s most recent comments otherwise.”

In the video message posted on Monday, Woodford said he’s confident he can make up for the last three years of under-performance despite having to sell some of the fund’s top performing stocks.

He said: “The assets that we’re going to be taking out of the portfolio are the assets that have been the best performing part of the portfolio but that does not mean that the assets we’re switching into don’t have the capacity to perform and I believe they will be able to deliver very good performance…I’m very confident that this portfolio will deliver both in absolute terms and against the index going forwards.”

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