Former Woodford Income Focus fund reopens

Trapped investors became able to deal in the former Woodford Income Focus fund again after the fund’s suspension was lifted at midday today.

Standard Life Investments, trading as Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI), was appointed as the new investment manager of the fund – previously Woodford Investment Management Limited – on 31 December 2019.

Since that date, ASI had been working to reposition the fund’s investments into a portfolio that ASI suggested is ‘best placed to add value’ for investors, with a view to reopening the fund.

The Woodford Income Focus fund, which has now become known as the ASI Income Focus fund, reopened today, and the first valuation of the fund will be at midday on Thursday 13 February.

AJ Bell head of active portfolios, Ryan Hughes, commented: “With investors now getting a first look at the revised top 10 holdings and sector positioning, it is clear that the fund has undergone a complete overhaul with none of the top 10 holdings under the previous manager appearing in the new top 10. At a sector level, exposure to financials has doubled, while consumer goods stocks are a significant overweight versus the benchmark.

“The bad news for investors is that this overhaul has come at a cost with significant underperformance of the FTSE All Share during the transition, not least because of the costs of making the changes to the portfolio.

“Many will see this as a final kick in the teeth, having suffered from poor performance and then had to pay again for the privilege of exiting the stocks.

“Looking forwards, investors now need to judge whether to keep the revamped fund or move on. It’s therefore important for investors to understand how the new managers think and get a feel for the types of company that they will likely invest in, to then be able to judge what the likely performance profile of the fund will be.”

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