Top stock-picker Neil Woodford suspends flagship fund

Fund manager Neil WoodfordImage copyright Woodford Investment Management
Image caption Fund manager Neil Woodford

One of the UK’s most high profile stock-pickers has suspended trading in his largest fund as rising numbers of investors ask for their money back.

Neil Woodford said after “an increased level of redemptions”, investors would not be allowed to “redeem, purchase or transfer shares” in the fund.

Investors have withdrawn about £560m from the fund over the past four weeks.

However, it was a request from Kent County Council to withdraw £250m that led to the suspension.

Kent County Council was unavailable for comment.

At its peak, the Woodford Equity Income fund managed £10.2bn worth of assets, such as local authority pension funds.

However, it now manages £3.7bn, according to the financial services and research firm Morningstar.

Mr Woodford’s firm, Woodford Investment Management, is also the biggest investor in Kier Group, the construction and services group which on Monday warned on profits, sending its shares crashing 41%.

It is understood that the fall in Kier’s share price is not connected to the decision to suspend trading in the Woodford Equity Income fund.

The firm said the suspension would give it “time to reposition the element of the fund’s portfolio invested in unquoted and less liquid stocks, in to more liquid investments”.

The Financial Conduct Authority, the city watchdog, said: “The FCA is aware of this situation and in contact with the firms involved to ensure that actions undertaken are in the best interests of all the fund’s investors.”

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