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Woodford Equity Income fund savers due to receive third payment this week

After freezing the fund at a value of £3.7bn, the latest investigation has calculated the maximum that could be returned is £2.7bn

Acacia Research -
Former star fund manager Neil Woodford was fired from the fund last October

Investors in the collapsed Woodford Equity Income fund should prepare to get a third cash payout later this week.

Savers in the fund will get a combined £200mln, equivalent to about 5p a share, the Mail on Sunday reported.

The administrators of the fund’s assets, Link Fund Solutions, has overseen around a £1bn decline in the value of the fund, the Sunday Times said. 

After the £3.7bn fund was frozen to redemptions in June 2019, with around 300,000 investors trapped, the value had fallen to around £3bn when Link fired Neil Woodford as manager on October 15, saying it would wind up the fund and return as much as it could to investors. 

In January an initial £2.1bn was returned to investors, plus another £143mln March, with the latest investigation calculating the maximum that could be returned is £2.7bn, the newspaper said.

In June this year, Link sold off 19 holdings in life sciences companies to US investor Acacia Research as a job lot in early June, with the prices well below the level at which the stocks were being valued in the fund.

One of these investments was Synairgen, which a few weeks later had rocketed over 550% after the company revealed positive results from a clinical drug trial.

Acacia later sold one stock at 14 times the price paid to Link, according to research by Citywire, and another for almost 13 times the price sold by Link.

Including the money from this sale, the fund was holding remaining assets worth £444mln on June 2, according to Link, or £114mln less than an estimate by Morningstar on May 20.

Link has also been unable to account for a £122mln shortfall in the fund’s total value, though it said this may be due to movements in share prices or currencoes, or stock-specific issues.

On top of that, Link has not revealed the total costs it has charged savers for operating the fund.

Reports earlier this year suggested founder Woodford himself was interested in buying the unlisted assets, while investment bank WG Partners tried to arrange a £550mln deal that fell through in February.

“Investors in the former Woodford Equity Income fund have already lost a lot of money and they have a right to understand how the fund has been wound down and the costs incurred,” said Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at AJ Bell, told the Times.  

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