UK fund supervisor Neil Woodford says ‘sorry’ as he proclaims comeback

Neil Woodford, Woodford Investment Management.

Woodford Investment Management

LONDON – Neil Woodford, the former UK star stockpicker whose investment firm collapsed in 2019, apologized for losses to investors when he shared plans to make a comeback with a new company.

Woodford said in an interview with The Telegraph published Saturday that he was “very sorry for what I did wrong”.

The fund manager also announced that he would be launching a new investment firm, Woodford Capital Management Partners, in Jersey. The company will reportedly only raise money from professional investors and focus on the biotech, UK life sciences and healthcare sectors.

Support for higher-risk early-stage and unlisted companies in these areas, as well as the poor performance of other stock selections, resulted in a wave of investor withdrawals from the Woodford Equity Income Fund. This led to the suspension and eventual liquidation of the fund, forcing the UK’s best-known fund manager to close down its first firm, Woodford Investment Management, in October 2019. The suspension and closure of the fund meant ordinary investors had to wait months to get their money back.

Woodford made a name for himself in the dotcom bubble by foregoing expensive tech stocks and selling banks while at Invesco in the run-up to the financial crisis.

Woodford said in the Telegraph interview that for the rest of his life he “didn’t want to hide and beat me up over things that happened almost two years ago”.

The UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, is still investigating the events that led to the suspension of the Woodford Fund.

In the interview, Woodford defended his previous company’s culture, saying that media testing “hurts”.

He also targeted Link Fund Solutions fund management team to close Wood Equity Income.

“I didn’t make the decision to suspend the fund, I didn’t make the decision to liquidate the fund,” said Woodford.

“As history will now show, those decisions were incredibly damaging to investors and were not mine,” he added, saying they were “left decisions.”

A Link Fund Solutions spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on Woodford’s remarks when contacted by CNBC.

According to an article in Investment Week, Link has disproved Woodford’s claim that any suggestion that the company “was unaware of the possibility of suspension or had no discussion of the decision to suspend is wrong”.

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