UPDATED: Invesco rejects Woodford Lloyds stake claims

Invesco Perpetual has categorically rejected reports that its star manager, UK equity giant Neil Woodford, is planning to buy a stake in Lloyds as the government sells its holding.

The group has told Investment Adviser that said some of its UK fund managers recently met executives from Lloyds as part of standard due diligence procedures on companies it carries out regardless of whether it owns them or not.

“Neil has no intention of buying a stake in Lloyds or any other UK high street bank at the present time,” a company spokeswoman said.

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She added that Mr Woodford was not involved in the meetings with Lloyds carried out by some of its UK fund management team.

Press reports surfaced this morning suggesting that Mr Woodford, who manages more than £25bn in assets at Invesco, is thought to be close to agreeing to buy a large stake in the bank.

Mr Woodford is renowned for focusing on relatively more ‘defensive’ parts of the market such as pharmaceuticals and utilities, while avoiding cyclical stocks such as technology or financials.

The government looks set to begin selling its 39 per cent stake in Lloyds in September, which it bought during the financial crisis, and is looking to raise approximately £5bn for 10 per cent of the firm.

Mr Woodford is better known for buying defensive, income-producing stocks, such as pharmaceuticals and consumer goods companies for his equity income funds, and has long avoided investing in banks.