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Woodford loses £330m Openwork fund in final blow

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A week of bad news for former star fund manager Neil Woodford has been capped off by the loss of his firm’s final contract – a £330m fund with financial advice group Openwork.

Woodford has been sacked as manager of the £330m Omnis Income & Growth fund, which he formerly ran for Openwork – a move that marks the end of a torrid week for his eponymous fund management business.

It follows Woodford Investment Management’s decision to suspend trading in its flagship equity income fund on Monday, as the company struggled to facilitate outflows. As it stands, no new investments can be made and no money can be withdrawn from the Woodford Equity Income fund by investors.

Part of the challenge in being able to facilitate the outflows stems from the fund’s exposure to unlisted stocks – which at one point accounted for 18 per cent of the portfolio. Today, the percentage is much lower and Woodford has vowed to take it down to zero, although this is a process that will take time due to the illiquid nature of some of the stocks.

The Omnis Income & Growth fund is entirely separate from Woodford’s Equity Income fund. The advice network has decided to replace Woodford as manager due to a run of poor performance by the manager. Over the 12 months to April 2019, the fund is down 14.6%.

In a statement, Openwork explained: “The selection process for a new fund manager began in May and is at an advanced stage with a final decision expected shortly as Omnis maintains its focus on ensuring the best outcomes for clients and the advisers that serve them.”

Openwork’s decision to sack Woodford Investment Management follows the firm’s loss of a £3.5bn mandate for financial advice group St James’s Place earlier in the week.