Woodford does not rule out cuts to investment staff

Woodford does not rule out cuts to investment staff

Woodford Investment Management has refused to rule out cutting the number of staff that work on the investment management function, as was suggested in earlier reports.

A sharp decline in assets under management and the flagship Equity Income fund's suspension in the beginning of June had led to job cuts this year, but Mr Woodford is reported to have said that there would be no redundancies in the investment division. 

But now one of Neil Woodford's longest standing allies in the investment management business has left, a company representative refused to confirm if the investment management division will be spared. 

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Investment manager Saku Saha left his employment at Woodford Investment Management earlier this month, but had not been at work for some time due to illness, FTAdviser understands.

His responsibilities included research into unquoted and illiquid stocks.

Mr Saha had worked at the firm since it launched five years ago, and prior to that had worked with Mr Woodford at Invesco.

Prior to joining the fund management industry, Mr Saha was in the British Army and trained at Sandhurst.

Woodford Investment Management confirmed Mr Saha's departure, but declined to comment further.

A representative said: "We have reluctantly entered into redundancy consultations with a number of staff to advise them that their roles are at risk."

Woodford Investment Management employs five people in the investment division, including Mr Woodford and the Lamacraft brothers. All of those had worked with Mr Woodford at Invesco. 

The Equity Income fund was suspended on June 3 following a period of sustained outflows, which was made more problematic by its holdings in unquoted stocks.

Mr Woodford pledged to remove the unquoted holdings from the fund by the end of this year, despite that part of the portfolio outperforming the listed equity portfolio over the past three years. 

The fund manager has sold hundreds of millions of pounds worth of shares since the fund was suspended, as he races to gather cash to enable the fund to reopen and meet redemptions.

Mr Woodford owns 65 per cent of Woodford Investment Management, and Craig Newman, the company chief executive, owns the remaining 35 per cent.

The duo split £37m in dividends for the year to March 2018, though the company say some of the cash was deployed back into the funds, into the business and may have been used for charitable donations. 

Mr Woodford has said all of his personal investments are in the funds he runs and the business.