July 29, 2019 / 7:04 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 2-Neil Woodford faces being sacked as manager of listed fund

* Woodford Patient Capital Trust mulls switching managers

* Considering offers from 'third parties' to run fund assets

* Woodford sells nearly two-thirds of stake in WPCT (Recasts, adds detail from statement, bullet points, share reaction, background)

By Huw Jones and Simon Jessop

LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) - Neil Woodford faces being sacked from managing the assets of his namesake listed investment fund, the latest knock to the embattled money manager after his flagship fund was suspended from trading.

Storied stockpicker Woodford, once a darling of retail investors, has seen his reputation tarnished after a liquidity crisis forced him to stop clients leaving his 3.7 billion pound ($4.57 billion) Equity Income Fund in June.

While the listed Woodford Patient Capital Trust carries his name, the company board has the ability to appoint another manager to run the assets and said on Monday it was considering offers from "third parties" to do just that.

"Whilst the board remains confident in the portfolio manager's commitment to WPCT... (it) intends to engage with a broader range of third-party managers in order to undertake a full assessment of all potential management options," WPCT said.

"The board will update the market in due course, as appropriate," it added, saying the board had been working with the Woodford to reduce borrowing.

The move by WPCT comes around a month after it announced a series of responses to its sliding share price, including plans to cut debt, hire new board members and improve oversight of stake sales in the suspended fund.

An announcement on whether the Equity Income Fund will be suspended for another month is expected to be made later on Monday by the fund's Authorised Corporate Director, Link Fund Solutions.

Given the large number of stakes the fund holds in unlisted or illiquid companies, it is expected to remain closed as Neil Woodford looks to find buyers, with a sales process set to kick off at the end of July.

As well as being subject to a regulatory probe over the circumstances surrounding the suspension of the fund, Woodford is also under fire for continuing to charge management fees to clients trapped in the suspended fund.

Woodford Investment Management earlier this month announced plans to lay off some workers as the firm looks to rein in costs.

WPCT said in a separate statement that Woodford had sold 1.75 million shares in WPCT between July 3-8. Trading between 53.1 pence and 58.9 pence, an average of 56 pence would have netted Woodford just under 1 million pounds, Reuters data shows.

"In the circumstances, whilst a reluctant seller... Mr Woodford sold...around 60% of his holding. The sole reason that he did so was in order to meet personal financial obligations, including a tax liability," WPCT said.

WPCT said that after the suspension of the Woodford Equity Income Fund, Neil Woodford elected not to take any income or dividends from Woodford Investment Management Limited during the suspension, which remains in place.

Shares in WPCT were down 1.2% at 0732 GMT, in a flat FTSE Mid-cap index.

$1 = 0.8102 pounds Reporting by Huw Jones Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Kirsten Donovan

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