Second UK claimant group sues over Woodford fund failure

·2-min read

By Kirstin Ridley and Carolyn Cohn

LONDON (Reuters) - A second group of investors has filed a multi-million pound London lawsuit over the failure of veteran stock picker Neil Woodford's now-defunct equity income fund, which left more than 300,000 nursing losses.

Marking the third anniversary since the fund's suspension, Harcus Parker said on Friday it had filed the case at London's High Court on behalf of an initial 1,500 investors. They are seeking damages of 18 million pounds-plus ($23 million-plus) against Link Fund Solutions over its handling of the fund.

Link was the authorised corporate director of the 3.7 billion pound LF Woodford Equity Income Fund.

The law firm alleges Link made millions of pounds in fees but failed to adequately supervise the fund, provide a prudent spread of risk, manage its liquidity and ensure its assets were appropriately valued, which proved catastrophic to investors.

Link said on Thursday it would vigorously defend itself against any proceedings and considered it had acted "in accordance with applicable rules, as well as in the best interests of all investors, and it will continue to do so".

Neil Woodford was criticised by lawmakers and investors for holding a large number of illiquid assets in the fund, which were harder to sell quickly to meet redemption requests after months of underperformance.

After a four-month lock-up that sparked an outcry from investors and an investigation by Britain's markets watchdog, the fund was shut in October 2019.

The latest claim comes after law firm Leigh Day filed a similar case on behalf of an initial 100 claimants last year, alleging Link allowed the fund to hold excessive difficult-to-sell investments, breached regulatory rules in the way it managed the fund and caused significant investor loss.

"Three years on ... our clients are disappointed that it has become necessary for them to issue proceedings in order to reclaim their lost investments," said Daniel Kerrigan, a senior associate at Harcus Parker.

Leigh Day and Harcus Parker say they have thousands of further clients who will be added to their claims. ($1 = 0.7969 pounds)

(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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