Woodford investors to receive £183m next week

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Woodford investors to receive £183m next week
Simon HargraveNeil Woodford, former manager of the Woodford Equity Income fund, has since started working with boutique investment firm Juno Capital

Investors trapped in Neil Woodford’s former flagship fund will share a £183m payment next week.

In a letter published today (August 20), the fund’s administrator Link Fund Solutions told investors it had raised a further £183m in the latest sell-off of the portfolio’s assets and that investors would be paid their share on or around August 26.

The payments, which will be the third tranche of payouts made to investors since the fund was wound down, relate to the sale of a bundle of the fund’s healthcare assets to Acacia for £224m, as announced in June.

Under the transaction, the portfolio of assets sold are being individually transferred at different times, with the fund receiving the payment for specific assets when they have been moved over. Therefore, investors are likely to receive additional payments from the Acacia agreement further down the line.

Link’s deal with Acacia was later branded ‘undercut’ when the US-listed firm re-sold some of the assets for a higher figure, although Link has since defended the deal’s price tag.

The new payment will bring the total returned to clients since the end of October to £2.5bn. About £500m is estimated to still be trapped in the fund.

Liquid assets were largely sold in January, when £2.1bn, around 70 per cent of the portfolio, was returned to investors.

A further £143m was paid in March, but the remaining assets — the most illiquid holdings — are still in the process of being sold by PJT Park Hill so investors remain in the dark regarding the full value and timeline of their return.

Laura Suter, personal finance analyst at AJ Bell, said: “There’s no sign of Link and the asset managers shifting the remaining illiquid assets in the fund. 

“There’s no mention of a timeline or any progress having been made on the sale of the assets...the process will drag on for even longer for investors, who just want to get as much of their money back as possible and move on from the sorry saga.”

Today’s letter also revealed there were further delays to publishing the fund’s financial statements and account, meaning investors have not had access to a proper report for over a year.

Link said: “Whilst the audit is progressing satisfactorily with all parties...due to the significant amount of work involved in finalising the financial statements and the detail of the post balance sheet events (including the Acacia transaction), it is now expected that the annual accounts will be published by 30 September 2020 at the latest.”

Ms Suter said this was “frustrating” for investors, who will look to the accounts for a bit more clarity on the sales process and costs involved in winding down the fund.