Finance

Neil Woodford is wooing new Middle East investors after shock comeback plan

The new investment management business set up by Neil Woodford has been scoping out potential investors in the Middle East, as the former star stock picker continues to plot his dramatic comeback to fund management.

Craig Newman, Woodford’s business partner, has been based in Dubai for the past few months gauging interest in their venture, Woodford Capital Management Partners, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Newman’s move to Dubai is only temporary, and he is expected to return to the UK.

Woodford, once the UK’s best-selling fund manager, announced in February that he was setting up WCM Partners — a Jersey-based firm which will raise money from high-net worth and institutional investors and focus on the biotech, British biosciences and healthcare sectors.

READ Woodford and Newman collected £1.5m in dividends weeks before fund suspension

WCM Partners is already advising US-based Acacia Research on the portfolio of unquoted stocks it purchased from his now defunct Equity Income fund, which were sold off by Link Fund Solutions last year.

Woodford’s shock comeback announcement came 16 months after his former business, Woodford Investment Management, collapsed in spectacular fashion following the closure of his flagship fund, which invested heavily in startups and unquoted companies.

The comeback plans, announced in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, attracted the attention of Jersey’s financial regulator, which issued a statement days later to say it had not received an authorisation request from Woodford’s new business.

The Financial Conduct Authority also revealed that it had not been approached for the necessary permissions to operate in the UK.

READ Neil Woodford plots comeback after saying ‘sorry’ for fund collapse

It is not the first time Woodford has sought investment from investors based in the Middle East. The fund manager and Newman travelled to the region in 2019 to gauge investor interest in some of the early stage companies Woodford invested in via his Equity Income fund and Patient Capital trust.

The most recent filings for Woodford IM with Companies House show the business partners received dividends worth £1.5m in the two months before the Equity Income fund was suspended in June 2019 — a move which left hundreds of thousands of investors unable to access their savings.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email David Ricketts

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