Woodford gathers consortium to make comeback

Woodford gathers consortium to make comeback

Neil Woodford is in the early stages of forming a consortium to invest in unquoted companies, a move that may benefit clients trapped in the Equity Income fund. 

FTAdviser understands that since he began winding down Woodford Investment Management in 2019, the former fund manager has been meeting with a range of former associates and contacts in the City. 

Some of the meetings were informal catch-ups, but evolved into a small group of investors discussing the possibility of buying the portfolio of unquoted and illiquid assets currently held by the Woodford Equity Income fund. 

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None of the investors Mr Woodford has spoken to are retail clients, and no approach has been made to a retail client about working with Mr Woodford on this.

The Woodford Equity Income fund closed in June 2019, following a period of outflows running at £9m a day. The most liquid part of the portfolio was sold off at the end of January, and investors in the fund received a payment. 

But investment bank PJT Park Hill has been hired to try and sell the fund's illiquid holdings - which are expected to be more difficult to sell. If Mr Woodford’s plans do become reality, it would provide a buyer for the the assets PJT Park Hill is trying to sell, and return cash to stranded investors much more quickly.

There had been an expectation the assets would be sold to a firm called WG Partners, which had entered into exclusive negotiations, but FTAdviser understands that when the period of exclusivity ended last month Mr Woodford and his associates stepped up their efforts to buy the assets.

FTAdviser understands Mr Woodford was contacted by a number of investors who were initially just interested in getting his thoughts on the portfolio but this later evolved.

The group with which Mr Woodford is working is comprised of family offices and institutional investors. 

FTAdviser understands the plans are at a tentative stage, and that nothing may materialise. 

Oxford-based Woodford Investment Management shut up shop at the start of January. Mr Woodford has insisted the Equity Income fund's unquoted holdings were its best performing investments.

Mr Woodford declined to comment. 

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