September 23, 2019 / 3:24 PM / 2 months ago

Woodford director says $4 billion fund freeze continues

LONDON (Reuters) - The suspension of money manager Neil Woodford’s Equity Income fund until December remains in place, the fund’s authorized corporate director said on Monday at its monthly review of the lock-up.

FILE PHOTO: British fund manager Neil Woodford is seen in this undated handout image released July 18, 2019. Jonathan Atkins/Handout via REUTERS

Link Fund Solutions froze the fund on June 3 after it was unable to meet redemption requests, to enable Woodford to sell assets to raise cash.

Woodford’s flagship fund, which is aimed at retail investors and has drawn the ire of lawmakers, regulators and investors for its exposure to unlisted and illiquid stocks, has lost 12.83% since its suspension, Link Fund Solutions said in a statement, underperforming its benchmark index.

Assets under management now total 3.1 billion pounds ($3.85 billion), according to Morningstar data.

Of the proceeds of share sales, 84% has been reinvested in FTSE 100 .FTSE companies, Woodford Investment Management said in a separate statement.

“Neil continues to reposition the portfolio founded on a belief that the global economic environment is not as robust as equity markets are implying,” the firm said.

It said the fund had lost ground recently following a revaluation of one of its top holdings, biotech firm BenevolentAI.

BenevolentAI got a $90 million investment from Singapore’s Temasek last week, valuing the company at $1 billion, down from a valuation of $2 billion at the previous funding round in April 2018.

Shares in Woodford’s only listed fund, Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT.L), were down 3.5% at 45.05 pence at 1446 GMT and are down more than 40% since the suspension of the flagship fund.

Woodwork’s other open-ended fund, the Income Focus fund, has assets under management of 267 million pounds, according to Morningstar, and has lost nearly half its value since the suspension.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn and Simon Jessop; Editing by Susan Fenton

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