UK fund manager Neil Woodford says ‘sorry’ as he announces comeback

on Feb15
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Neil Woodford, Woodford Investment Management.

Woodford Investment Management

LONDON — Neil Woodford, the former U.K. star stockpicker whose investment firm collapsed in 2019, has said “sorry” to investors for losses as he shared plans to make a comeback with a new business. 

Woodford said in an interview with The Telegraph, published Saturday, that he was “very sorry for what I did wrong.” 

The fund manager also announced that he would be launching a new investment firm, Woodford Capital Management Partners, in Jersey. The firm will reportedly only raise money from professional investors and will focus on the biotech sector, British biosciences and health care. 

Backing riskier early-stage and unlisted companies in these areas, compounded with poor performance from other stock picks, was what led to a wave of investor redemptions from the Woodford Equity Income Fund. This resulted in the suspension and eventual winding up of the fund, which forced the U.K.’s most famous fund manager to close his first firm, Woodford Investment Management, in October 2019. The suspension and closure of the fund meant ordinary investors had to wait months to get their money back. 

Woodford made his name in the dotcom bubble by eschewing expensive tech stocks and selling out of banks in the lead up to the financial crisis, while working at Invesco.  

Woodford said in the Telegraph interview that for the rest of his life he didn’t want to “hide away and beat myself up about things that happened the best part of two years ago.” 

The U.K.’s regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, is still investigating the events that led to the suspension of Woodford’s fund. 

In the interview, Woodford defended his former firm’s culture, saying that the scrutiny it faced in the media “hurts.” 

He also took aim at the fund’s administration, Link Fund Solutions, for closing Wood Equity Income. 

“I didn’t make the decision to suspend the fund, I didn’t make the decision to liquidate the fund,” Woodford said.

“As history will now show, those decisions were incredibly damaging to investors, and they were not mine,” he added, saying it was “Link’s decisions.”

A spokesperson for Link Fund Solutions was not immediately available to comment on Woodford’s remarks when contacted by CNBC.

Link has refuted Woodford’s claim, according to an article in Investment Week, saying that any suggestion that the firm was “not aware of the possibility of suspension, or did not engage in discussions concerning the decision to suspend, is incorrect.”

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