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Revamped Woodford fund to launch on Thursday

The ASI Income Focus fund, previously known as the Woodford Income Focus fund, has been suspended and overhauled after the star picker resigned as its manager in October

AJ Bell - Revamped Woodford fund to launch tomorrow

Investors trapped in a fund run by former star stock picker Neil Woodford will finally be able to trade shares in a revamped version of his Income Focus fund which opens on Thursday.

Investors in the renamed ASI Income Focus fund will be able to place trades from midday today (Wednesday) ahead of the opening, with new managers Thomas Moore and Charles Luke from Aberdeen Standard Investments revealing the fund’s new holdings in an announcement on Tuesday.

“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”, said AJ Bell’s head of active portfolios Ryan Hughes.

“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”, he added.

Link Fund Solutions, which supervises the fund’s management, was forced to suspend it last October after Woodford resigned as its manager.

The resignation followed the collapse of the stock picker’s flagship Woodford Equity Income Fund as it was forced to block investor withdrawals amid a liquidity crisis.

It later emerged that many of the fund’s investments were tied up in unlisted and illiquid stocks, making them much harder to sell and pay the money back to investors in the case of mass withdrawals.

Moore and Luke have remodelled the portfolio towards more internationally facing businesses, with new additions such as Coca-Cola HBC (LON:CCH), TUI AG (LON:TUI), Ashmore Group (LON:ASHM), as well as some news domestic names such as Close Brothers (LON:CBG), SSE PLC (LON:SSE) and Assura PLC (LON:AGR).

The biggest holdings are now led by National Express (LON:NEX), followed by the likes of Mondi PLC (LON:MNDI), John Laing Group (LON:JLG) and British American Tobacco (LON:BATS).

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