Neil Woodford retreats from relaunch plans as investment company is wound up

Neil Woodford has retreated from an attempt to recapture his crown as Britain’s biggest fund manager as a company meant to relaunch his career is wound up.

Paperwork shows that directors at Mr Woodford’s business WCM Partners have applied to strike it from the official register, just over a year after the former star manager announced comeback plans in a Telegraph interview following the collapse of his previous empire.

The application to remove the business from Companies House came after the departure of two directors earlier this year. WCM Partners still has a website with an empty landing page and no contact details.

Mr Woodford has cut ties with the PR agency he hired when he unveiled his revival attempt.

The investor — once described as Britain’s answer to Warren Buffett — was forced to suspend the trading of his flagship Woodford Equity Income fund in 2019 because of a mass exodus of investors that jeopardized his ability to run it effectively.

A Financial Conduct Authority investigation into the collapse of his funds empire is expected to close shortly.

It is not known why directors at WCM no longer want it to be structured as a limited company. According to official guidance, a business may make this step because directors wish to retire and there is no one to take over, the company is a subsidiary whose name is no longer needed or the company was “originally set up to exploit an idea that turned out not to be feasible”.

The business’s latest filings show that it had £257,787 in cash at the bank in December and that its remaining directors are Paul Green and Craig Newman, who has long been Mr Woodford’s right-hand man.

Those who have worked with Mr Woodford in the past said they suspect he is planning to focus more on overseas business or on his relationship with American-based Acacia Research, which in 2020 made huge profits buying stocks owned by his collapsed empire at a bargain and rapidly selling them on.

Mr Woodford has been advising Acacia since early last year, a relationship that the company said is continuing.

One former employee said: “I doubt that he’s turned off his Bloomberg terminal forever.”

City shareholders said late last year that Mr Woodford and Mr Newman were “looking to raise capital”.

At the time, one large institutional investor said: “I think there’s huge reticence in the UK, but he might raise money from China and the Middle East.”

Mr Woodford told The Telegraph last year that he knew his comeback plans could anger savers who had invested in his collapsed fund, many of whom were saddled with massive losses.

He said: “Maybe I’m about to put my head in the jaws of a lion. But I don’t want to, for the rest of my life, hide away and beat myself up about things that happened the best part of two years ago.”

WCM Partners and Mr Woodford could not be reached for comment.


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