Trust considering replacing Neil Woodford as stockpicker

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Neil Woodford was considered one of the UK's star investment managers. Photo: Woodford Fund

The board of Neil Woodford’s investment trust said on Monday that is was still considering replacing him with another portfolio manager.

In its half-year results, the Woodford Patient Capital Investment Trust (WPCT.L) said that it continued to “evaluate the position” of the famed stockpicker, noting that it was in talks with other potential managers.

“This process can take time and ultimately the board’s decision will be that which is in the best interests of protecting long-term value for shareholders,” said Susan Searle, the chairman of the board.

In June, Neil Woodford was forced to suspend one of his flagship funds, the Woodford Equity Income Fund, after investors requested to withdraw hundreds of millions from it.

READ MORE: More pain for Woodford investors as three firms devalued by £33m

He was once considered one of the UK’s star investment managers. A former Investec money manager, he founded his own fund in 2015.

But his funds have performed poorly in recent years, and thousands of investors have now seen their investments frozen in the suspended fund.

Link Asset Services, which oversees the Equity Income Fund, said last week that Woodford’s fund would continue to be frozen until at least December.

Neil Woodford apologised to investors again on Monday. Noting that shareholders had endured “an extremely disappointing six-month period,” he said he was “very sorry.”

READ MORE: Money manager Neil Woodford apologises again as fund continues to do badly

“While shareholders can be forgiven for thinking there are no positives, I continue to believe that the majority of the businesses we have invested in are making good progress, in line with our pre-agreed milestones,” he said.

"The journey to positive outcomes has been longer and more painful than investors would have liked, or anticipated, but the returns to be gained by delivering on the progress, I believe, will ultimately reward the patient investor.”

Separately, Woodford Patient Capital has suffered three write-downs in the last five weeks, which has knocked a collective £105m off the trust’s net asset value.

The trust blamed the “challenging fundraising environment” for the write-down of the three companies in question, which were not named.

On Monday, Searle said that the past six months had “undoubtedly been the most challenging period for the company since it floated in 2015.”

“Events at the portfolio manager have been disappointing for everyone associated with WPCT, shareholders and board members alike.”