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Woodford to launch comeback investment firm

Written by: Emma Lunn
The fallen fund manager says he’s “sorry” and announced that he plans to start all over again with a new firm called WCM (Woodford Capital Management) Partners.

Neil Woodford broke his silence on the collapse of his investment firm, and announced his plans to set up a new business, in an interview with the Telegraph.

Tearful and defiant, Woodford told the newspaper that he was “sorry” for what he did wrong, although he defended the culture at Woodford Investment Management.

Woodford admits he was responsible for the fund’s underperformance, but criticised the company’s administrator Link Fund Solutions for closing his investment firm.

He told the Telegraph: “As history will now show, those decisions were incredibly damaging to investors, and they were not mine. They were Link’s decisions.”

Woodford Capital Management Partners will be based in Jersey and involve Woodford’s righthand man Craig Newman.

The new investment vehicle looks like it will be aimed at professional investors only with the investment approach once again focused on niche, higher risk, potentially illiquid investments that Woodford had such conviction in for his previous fund.

The Woodford Equity Income fund was suspended in June 2019 following an increase in redemption requests which couldn’t be readily met. In October 2019, Link confirmed the £3bn fund would be wound-up with cash returned to investors as soon as possible.

However, investors have faced a long wait for their money. Payments were made in January, March, August and December last year. But in September, Link Fund Solutions warned that investors could have to wait up to a year to get all their money back.

Law firm Leigh Day launched a group claim against Link Fund Solutions for alleged mismanagement of the Woodford fund last week.

Woodford told The Telegraph: “I thought I never, ever want to be near the fund management industry again, but they say time is a healer. I didn’t want what happened to me in 2019 to be the epitaph of my career, I didn’t want it to be the full stop. I’m not trying to rebuild an ego, I just felt I wanted to continue to do the things that I believe in. I don’t think I’m qualified to do anything else.”

The news that Woodford is looking to make a comeback will come as a surprise to many, especially those thousands of embattled investors who are still waiting to get the last of their money back.

Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at AJ Bell, said: “With around £200m of money still stuck in his previous fund and original investors back in 2014 sitting on losses of over 25% and many thousands who invested later suffering much bigger losses, there will be little sympathy for Woodford and the comments he made in his recent interview.

“While some investors may well agree with Woodford’s view that investors would have been better off if his fund was not forced to suspend and liquidate, others will simply be glad that they have got some of their money back after being stuck for many months and will want to finally move on from this sorry saga.

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