The shares Woodford has sold as fund deadline looms

The shares Woodford has sold as fund deadline looms

Neil Woodford has slashed his stakes in several companies as he scrambles to raise cash ahead of the planned re-opening of his Equity Income fund in December.

Stock exchange data shows Woodford Investment Management has cut its stake in Circassia Pharmaceuticals, a £65m market cap company.

The company has cut its stake from 19.95 per cent to below 5 per cent.

Circassia's shares have fallen from 74p to 17p over the past year - though Mr Woodford has not necessarily made a loss on his investment.

Earlier in the month, stock market filings show Woodford Investment Management slashed its stake in doorstep lender Non Standard Finance from 23.9 per cent to below 5 per cent. 

Mr Woodford had previously backed the management of Non Standard Finance in its bid to takeover a rival firm, Provident Financial, another company in which Mr Woodford has a stake. 

The takeover attempt was ultimately unsuccessful and the share price of the company has fallen from 67p to 43p as a result. 

The shares are being sold as Mr Woodford scrambles to raise the cash to re-open his Equity Income fund, which was suspended in June following outflows of £9m each working day in May. 

The fund manager has also made a new investment into the fund over the past month, increasing his holding in biotech company Rutherford Health. He has bought more shares in this company for his Equity Income fund. 

Stock market filings show the Woodford Equity Income fund now owns 21.5 per cent. 

The Patient Capital trust reduced its holding to 29.01 per cent.

The share purchases came via a rights issue, which Woodford Investment Management had previously committed to supporting. The total amount spent on new shares for the Equity Income fund is £12.5m.

A representative of Woodford Investment Management said: “We continue to reposition the portfolio of the LF Woodford Equity Income Fund away from less liquid securities, into more liquid FTSE100 and FTSE250 stocks.

"In relation to Rutherford Health, formerly known as Proton Partners and which is listed on the NEX Exchange, we have agreed to a further equity injection of £12.5m to be made by the Equity Income Fund, following consultation with Link.

"This action has been taken in accordance with a pre-agreed commitment to the company, and to protect investors’ interests.”

Rutherford Health has a market cap of £409m.