Invesco sells £140m in AJ Bell shares

Mark Barnett inherited Neil Woodford’s funds when he left to launch his investment boutique


Invesco’s Mark Barnett sold £144.4m worth of its shares in AJ Bell as his funds are scrutinised following the suspension of Neil Woodford’s flagship fund.

In a trading update, the asset manager said it had cut its stake in the business from 25.4% to 16.1%, having sold 9.3% of the shares at a price of 380p.

Barnett (pictured), who worked with Neil Woodford for 17 years and took over management of his funds at Invesco in 2014, held the majority of the AJ bell shares in his £7.5bn Invesco High Income fund and £3.2bn Income fund.

Adrian Lowcock, head of personal investing at Willis Owen, said Barnett’s funds will be facing additional scrutiny following the suspension of Woodford’s flagship fund.

“There is going to naturally be some impact on the fund given that Woodford used to manage it and the current manager, Mark Barnett is often seen as a protégé of Woodford’s and there are some similarities at the stock level.”

However, he added that the timing of the sale could also be coincidental, with Barnett possibly looking to take profits on AJ Bell shares, which have nearly tripled in value since the company IPO’d.

“I think it is important to recognise that whilst Mark Barnett’s investment style is similar to Woodford the fund is materially different in structure remains very liquid and is what I would call a more core equity income portfolio,” said Lowcock. “The contrarian nature of the manager and value approach means the fund has experienced a period of under-performance but is well positioned to see this through the cycle. “

A spokesperson for AJ Bell said it does not comment on anyone buying or selling its shares.

The RNS update said Invesco has been a longstanding investor in AJ Bell and that, following completion of the placing, it intends to remain a significant, long term shareholder of the company.

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