Date set for Woodford Income Focus reopening

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Date set for Woodford Income Focus reopening
Neil Woodford

Investors trapped in what was formerly Neil Woodford’s Income Focus fund will be able to access their cash by mid-February, the fund’s administrators have announced.

In a letter to investors, published this afternoon (January 31), Link Fund Solutions said it and new manager Aberdeen Standard Investments had decided the portfolio was in a strong enough position to reopen on February 13, 2020.

The letter said investors would be able to put in orders to buy and sell shares from midday on February 12, with the first valuation of the fund taking place at 12pm the following day.

Aberdeen Standard took the reins of the suspended portfolio on December 20, 2019 after Link decided to keep the fund running, rather than wind it down as it did with Mr Woodford’s other fund.

The fund house predicted at the time it would be able to reopen the portfolio no later than February 2020.

Since the fund's suspension the portfolio has returned 0.67 per cent, compared with a FTSE All Share return of 3.97 per cent and an IA UK Equity Income Sector average of 6.52 per cent.

Investors in the strategy, now known as ASI Income Focus, have seen a fee cut of about 0.5 per cent since Aberdeen Standard took over its management.

This is because Link, Aberdeen Standard and the fund’s depository Northern Trust have all agreed to waive their fees for their various roles until May 31 this year.

Aberdeen Standard has also cut the target level of income investors should expect in the future, from 5p per share to “higher than the average yield of the FTSE All-Share”. The index yielded 4.09 per cent as at December 31 2019.

The fund was suspended on October 15 last year after Link decided to wind down Mr Woodford’s Equity Income strategy and the manager walked away from both the Income Focus fund and his Patient Capital trust.

Investors in the Equity Income fund this week found out they would lose between 20 and 40 per cent of their cash as the fund started to make payments from the assets already sold off.

The saga began when the Equity Income fund was gated on June 3 after Mr Woodford was unable to meet the level of requested redemptions.

Mr Woodford’s investment business, Woodford Investment Management, has now closed.

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