Jersey watchdog says new Woodford firm has not applied for authorisation

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Jersey Financial Services Commission said on Wednesday it had not received an authorisation application from WCM Partners, an investment management firm planned by veteran investor Neil Woodford.

Woodford's former firm, UK-based Woodford Investment Management, collapsed in 2019, several months after its main fund froze, leaving thousands of small savers unable to retrieve their cash.

WCM Partners said in a statement earlier this week that Woodford would be chief investment officer of the firm, which would be based in Jersey and in Buckinghamshire, England.

"The JFSC is disappointed to see this announcement in advance of either receiving or processing any application from this company for authorisation to conduct licensed business as an investment management firm in Jersey," the financial services watchdog said in a statement.

"It would be normal practice when making such an announcement to make it clear that it is ‘subject to regulatory approval’."

The trading name WCM Partners has been reserved in the Jersey Registry, the regulator added.

Britain's Financial Conduct Authority is investigating the circumstances leading up to the suspension of Woodford's flagship fund in June 2019.

The FCA said late on Tuesday it was in contact with Jersey's financial services watchdog over the proposed new firm.

FCA director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward said the new business would need to apply for "appropriate permissions" before commencing any regulated activity in Britain.

WCM Partners said in its statement that it was advising Acacia Research on a portfolio of life science stocks previously owned by Woodford Investment Management and sold to Acacia in June 2020 as part of the liquidation of the firm's main fund.

WCM said the assets would "form the cornerstone of a new strategy to rebuild the Woodford investment operation".

A spokesman for WCM Partners declined to comment on the JFSC statement.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn, editing by Huw Jones, Kirsten Donovan)