Fresh blow to Woodford as Hargreaves Lansdown drops Income Focus fund

Fresh blow to Woodford as Hargreaves Lansdown drops Income Focus fund

In the wake of the removal of Neil Woodford's suspended Equity Income fund from the Wealth 50, Hargreaves Lansdown has dealt another blow to the manager with its decision to close its position in the Woodford Income Focus fund.

The fund supermarket has sold down its holding in Neil Woodford's fund, which previously made up 8.23% of the firm's Multi-Manager High Income portfolio.

Head of investment analysis Emma Wall confirmed: "I can confirm that we 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 portfolio range."

HL announced earlier this week it was considering dropping the product from its multi-manager range, which is currently valued at £8.6bn, having removed the vehicle from its buy list.

Wall added: "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."

The latest blow to Woodford IM comes nearly two weeks after the suspension of its flagship Equity Income fund on 3 June, which caused an outcry across the investment management industry.

Last week, HL's research director Mark Dampier, announced the broker's decision to pull the Equity Income fund from the Wealth 50 list.

In the statement on 4 June, Dampier said: "We've been long-term supporters of Woodford, and his multi-decade track record is impressive in our view. But we acknowledge how disappointing performance has been over the past couple of years, and our own conviction has been tested."

Due to this close relationship, Hargreaves Lansdown has come under increasing criticism from Chair of the Treasury Committee Nicky Morgan and other spokespeople in the industry.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has also come under fire amid concerns the regulation around open-ended funds' exposure to unlisted stocks is insufficient.

Days after the gating of the fund, Hargreaves Lansdown waived its platform fees on the product and called on Woodford to do the same. However, Woodford continues to charge investors who are frozen out of the fund 0.75% as he scrambles to offload assets.  

Woodford has since asked investors to remain patient as he readjusts his portfolio to allow for "a much more liquid portfolio". The Equity Income fund will remain suspended for a minimum of 28 days from the original announcement.

This article was first published by Investment Week, a sister title to International Investment

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