Neil Woodford, Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Un­der siege, in­vest­ment man­ag­er Wood­ford faces an­oth­er in­vest­ment shock

Em­bat­tled UK fund man­ag­er Neil Wood­ford — who has con­tro­ver­sial­ly blocked in­vestors from pulling out from his flag­ship fund to stem the blood­let­ting, af­ter a slew of dis­ap­point­ed in­vestors fled fol­low­ing a se­ries of sour bets — is now pay­ing the price for his ac­tions via an in­vestor ex­o­dus on an­oth­er fund.

Har­g­reaves Lans­down, which has in the past sold and pro­mot­ed the Wood­ford funds via its re­tail in­vest­ment plat­form, has re­port­ed­ly with­drawn £45 mil­lion — its en­tire po­si­tion — from the in­vest­ment man­ag­er’s In­come Fo­cus Fund.

“(W)e have closed our po­si­tion in Wood­ford In­come Fo­cus in the Har­g­reaves Lans­down Mul­ti-Man­ag­er High In­come fund this week. We have no oth­er ex­po­sure to the Wood­ford In­come Fo­cus fund across our MM (Mul­ti-Man­ag­er) port­fo­lio range. Last week, we com­mu­ni­cat­ed to clients why we were re­mov­ing the fund from the Wealth 50 list of our favourite funds, as we no longer had con­vic­tion in the fund,” a Har­g­reaves Lans­down spokesper­son told End­points News.

Em­ma Wall Linkedin

Har­g­reaves’s cus­tomers ac­count­ed for rough­ly £2 bil­lion of £10.6 bil­lion un­der Wood­ford’s man­age­ment at the end of March, The Guardian re­port­ed. Morn­ingstar re­search shows the In­come Fo­cus Fund was worth £480 mil­lion on June 3, and the British news­pa­per es­ti­mates it was worth £353 mil­lion on Wednes­day, June 12.

Af­ter 26 years at In­vesco, Wood­ford launched his cor­ner­stone eq­ui­ty in­come fund in 2014, rais­ing bil­lions to in­vest in the life sci­ences. But some of his bets — such as Prothena, Cir­cas­sia and North­west Bio, turned sour, and those wrin­kles have cul­mi­nat­ed in the longest pe­ri­od of weak re­turns. Wood­ford orig­i­nal­ly an­chored his rep­u­ta­tion as a blue-chip in­vestor in com­pa­nies like GSK. Last year, Wood­ford paid him­self and his busi­ness part­ner £36.5 mil­lion.

Frus­trat­ed by a flood of in­vestor re­demp­tions, ear­li­er this month, with­out warn­ing Wood­ford sus­pend­ed in­vestors from mov­ing their mon­ey for at least 28 days from his main £3.5 bil­lion Eq­ui­ty In­come Fund, days af­ter be­ing down­grad­ed by Morn­ingstar. Adding fu­el to the fire, Wood­ford has re­fused to waive his £100,000-a-day in­vest­ment man­age­ment fee for the cor­ner­stone fund, ig­nor­ing out­rage from the UK’s Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­i­ty, and the chair of the Trea­sury se­lect com­mit­tee.

Har­g­reaves Lans­down, whose clients last year ac­count­ed for more than 30% of Wood­ford’s now frozen fund, has said it would waive its fee for af­fect­ed clients as long as the fund was sus­pend­ed, me­dia re­ports have sug­gest­ed.

Mean­while, if in­vestors trapped in the sus­pend­ed Eq­ui­ty In­come Fund choose to sell when it re­opens, they will like­ly face ad­di­tion­al puni­tive charges or “es­cape penal­ties”, the Tele­graph re­port­ed on Fri­day.

Brex­it un­cer­tain­ty has trig­gered ner­vous in­vestors to with­draw an eye-pop­ping £15.3 bil­lion out of UK Eq­ui­ty In­come funds in gen­er­al, in the 16 months lead­ing up to April 2019, ac­cord­ing to da­ta com­piled by Morn­ingstar.

End­points News has con­tact­ed Wood­ford for com­ment.

Once con­sid­ered the UK’s most promi­nent stock pick­er, Wood­ford in March spec­u­lat­ed about his come­back in­to the big leagues in the next two years, by pre­serv­ing his “val­u­a­tion-fo­cused” ap­proach to stock se­lec­tion that has served as his ar­mor through pre­vi­ous pe­ri­ods of un­der­per­for­mance.

Drug man­u­fac­tur­ing gi­ant Lon­za taps Roche/phar­ma ‘rein­ven­tion’ vet as its new CEO

Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.

Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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UP­DAT­ED: Leg­end fetch­es $424 mil­lion, emerges as biggest win­ner yet in pan­dem­ic IPO boom as shares soar

Amid a flurry of splashy pandemic IPOs, a J&J-partnered Chinese biotech has emerged with one of the largest public raises in biotech history.

Legend Biotech, the Nanjing-based CAR-T developer, has raised $424 million on NASDAQ. The biotech had originally filed for a still-hefty $350 million, based on a range of $18-$20, but managed to fetch $23 per share, allowing them to well-eclipse the massive raises from companies like Allogene, Juno, Galapagos, though they’ll still fall a few dollars short of Moderna’s record-setting $600 million raise from 2018.

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As it hap­pened: A bid­ding war for an an­tibi­ot­ic mak­er in a mar­ket that has rav­aged its peers

In a bewildering twist to the long-suffering market for antibiotics — there has actually been a bidding war for an antibiotic company: Tetraphase.

It all started back in March, when the maker of Xerava (an FDA approved therapy for complicated intra-abdominal infections) said it had received an offer from AcelRx for an all-stock deal valued at $14.4 million.

The offer was well-timed. Xerava was approved in 2018, four years after Tetraphase posted its first batch of pivotal trial data, and sales were nowhere near where they needed to be in order for the company to keep its head above water.

RA Cap­i­tal, Hill­house join $310M rush to back Ever­est's climb to com­mer­cial heights in Chi­na

Money has never been an issue for Everest Medicines. With an essentially open tab from their founders at C-Bridge Capital, the biotech has gone two and a half years racking up drug after drug, bringing in top exec after top exec, and issuing clinical update after update.

But now other investors want in — and they’re betting big.

Everest is closing its Series C at $310 million. The first $50 million comes from the Jiashan National Economic and Technological Development Zone; the remaining C-2 tranche was led by Janchor Partners, with RA Capital Management and Hillhouse Capital as co-leaders. Decheng Capital, GT Fund, Janus Henderson Investors, Rock Springs Capital, Octagon Investments all joined.

David Meline (file photo)

Mod­er­na’s new CFO took a cut in salary to jump to the mR­NA rev­o­lu­tion­ary. But then there’s the rest of the com­pen­sa­tion pack­age

David Meline took a little off the top of his salary when he jumped from the CFO post at giant Amgen to become the numbers czar at the upstart vaccines revolutionary Moderna. But the SEC filing that goes with a major hire also illustrates how it puts him in line for a fortune — provided the biotech player makes good as a promising game changer.

To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with the base salary: $600,000. Or the up-to 50% annual cash bonus — an industry standard — that comes with it. True, the 62-year-old earned $999,000 at Amgen in 2019, but it’s the stock options that really count in the current market bliss for all things biopharma. And there Meline did well.

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Por­tion of Neil Wood­ford’s re­main­ing in­vest­ments, in­clud­ing Nanopore, sold off for $284 mil­lion

It’s been precisely one year and one day since Neil Woodford froze his once-vaunted fund, and while a global pandemic has recently shielded him from the torrent of headlines, the fallout continues.

Today, the California-based patent licensing firm Acacia Research acquired the fund’s shares for 19 healthcare and biotech companies for $284 million.  Those companies include shares for public and private companies and count some of Woodford’s most prominent bio-bets, such as Theravance Biopharma, Oxford Nanopore and Mereo Biopharma, according to Sky News, which first reported the sale. It won’t include shares for BenevelontAI, the machine learning biotech once valued at $2 billion.

Covid-19 roundup: Ab­b­Vie jumps in­to Covid-19 an­ti­body hunt; As­traZeneca shoots for 2B dos­es of Ox­ford vac­cine — with $750M from CEPI, Gavi

Another Big Pharma is entering the Covid-19 antibody hunt.

AbbVie has announced a collaboration with the Netherlands’ Utrecht University and Erasmus Medical Center and the Chinese-Dutch biotech Harbour Biomed to develop a neutralizing antibody that can treat Covid-19. The antibody, called 47D11, was discovered by AbbVie’s three partners, and AbbVie will support early preclinical work, while preparing for later preclinical and clinical development. Researchers described the antibody in Nature Communications last month.