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.

Brian Kaspar. AveXis via Twitter

AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder fires back at No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan, 'cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly de­nies any wrong­do­ing'

Brian Kaspar’s head was among the first to roll at Novartis after company execs became aware of the fact that manipulated data had been included in its application for Zolgensma, now the world’s most expensive therapy.

But in his first public response, the scientific founder at AveXis — acquired by Novartis for $8.7 billion — is firing back. And he says that not only was he not involved in any wrongdoing, he’s ready to defend his name as needed.

I reached out to Brian Kaspar after Novartis put out word that he and his brother Allen had been axed in mid-May, two months after the company became aware of the allegations related to manipulated data. His response came back through his attorneys.

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We­bi­nar: Re­al World End­points — the brave new world com­ing in build­ing fran­chise ther­a­pies

Several biopharma companies have been working on expanding drug labels through the use of real world endpoints, combing through the data to find evidence of a drug’s efficacy for particular indications. But we’ve just begun. Real World Evidence is becoming an important part of every clinical development plan, in the soup-through-nuts approach used in building franchises.

I’ve recruited a panel of 3 top experts in the field — the first in a series of premium webinars — to look at the practical realities governing what can be done today, and where this is headed over the next few years, at the prodding of the FDA.


ZHEN SU — Merck Serono’s Senior Vice President and Global Head of Oncology


ELLIOTT LEVY — Amgen’s Senior Vice President of Global Development


CHRIS BOSHOFF — Pfizer Oncology’s Chief Development Officer

A premium subscription to Endpoints News is required to attend this webinar. Please upgrade to either an Insider or Enterprise plan for access. Already have Endpoints Premium? Please sign-in below. You can contact our Subscriptions team at help@endpointsnews.com with any issues.

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As­traZeneca’s Imfinzi/treme com­bo strikes out — again — in lung can­cer. Is it time for last rites?

AstraZeneca bet big on the future of their PD-L1 Imfinzi combined with the experimental CTLA-4 drug tremelimumab. But once again it’s gone down to defeat in a major Phase III study — while adding damage to the theory involving targeting cancer with a high tumor mutational burden.

Early Wednesday the pharma giant announced that their NEPTUNE study had failed, with the combination unable to beat standard chemo at overall survival in high TMB cases of advanced non-small cell lung cancer. We won’t get hard data until later in the year, but the drumbeat of failures will call into question what — if any — future this combination can have left.

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UP­DAT­ED: Pay­back? An­a­lysts say Sarep­ta was blind­sided by an FDA re­jec­tion dri­ven by reg­u­la­to­ry re­venge

In one of the least anticipated moves of the year, the FDA has rejected Sarepta’s application for an accelerated approval of its Duchenne MD drug golodirsen after fretting over safety issues.

In a statement that arrived after the bell on Monday, Sarepta explained the CRL, saying:

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Levi Garraway. Broad Institute via Youtube

Roche raids Eli Lil­ly for its next chief med­ical of­fi­cer as San­dra Horn­ing plans to step down

We found out Monday morning where Levi Garraway was headed after he left Eli Lilly as head of oncology R&D a few days ago. Roche named Garraway as their new chief medical officer, replacing Sandra Horning, who they say is retiring from the company.

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Af­ter a posse of Wall Street an­a­lysts pre­dict a like­ly new win for Sarep­ta, we're down to the wire on a crit­i­cal FDA de­ci­sion

As Bloomberg notes, most of the Wall Street analysts that cover Sarepta $SRPT are an upbeat bunch, ready to cheer on the team when it comes to their Duchenne MD drugs, or offer explanations when an odd setback occurs — as happened recently with a safety signal that was ‘erroneously’ reported last week.

Ritu Baral Cowen
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FDA de­ci­sion on Ver­tex's CF triple will come just ahead of planned CEO shake­up

Vertex has clinched a priority review for the all-important cystic fibrosis triple that will blaze the trail for treating a large group of patients unhelped by its current drugs.

FDA regulators have set a PDUFA date of March 19, 2020, just a year after the Boston biotech posted positive Phase III results showing that people with two F508del mutations experienced statistically significant improvements in lung function after a 4-week regimen of VX-445, tezacaftor and ivacaftor. After reviewing 24-week data among patients with one F508del mutation and one minimal function mutation — and thoroughly comparing the VX-445 triple with another combo featuring VX-659 on scores like safety, drug-drug interactions, and photosensitivity — Vertex ultimately went with VX-445.

An MIT spin­out kills one of its ‘liv­ing ther­a­peu­tics’ af­ter flunk­ing an ear­ly-stage study — shares rout­ed

Just a few weeks after bagging $80 million in a deal to collaborate with Gingko Bioworks on its special blend of engineered bacteria used for “living therapeutics,” little Synlogic in Boston $SYBX is tossing one of its two clinical programs after watching an early-stage study go down in defeat.

Their Phase Ib/IIa study for SYNB1020 to counter the accumulation of ammonia in the body, a condition called hyperammonemia or urea cycle disorder, floundered at the interim readout, forcing the biotech to kill it and reserve its cash for pipeline therapies with greater potential.

Elan­co to buy Bay­er's an­i­mal health busi­ness for $7.6B, as deal­mak­ing gath­ers steam in the sec­tor

Last week, Elanco explicitly dodged answering questions about its rumored interest in Bayer’s animal health business in its post-earnings call. On Tuesday, the Eli Lilly spinoff disclosed it was purchasing the German drug maker’s veterinary unit in a cash-and-stock deal worth $7.6 billion. 

Elanco $ELAN has been busy on the deal-making front. In April, it laid out plans to swallow its partner, Kansas-based pet therapeutics company Aratana $PETX. A July report by Reuters suggested a potential Bayer deal was being explored, and Bloomberg last week said the deal was imminent, citing sources.