Omnis drops Woodford from £330m mandate

Openwork’s investment business follows in the footsteps of SJP


Omnis Investments has dropped Neil Woodford from its £330m Income & Growth fund, following in the footsteps of St James’s Place, which also removed the equities manager from one of its segregated mandates.

However, while SJP said it would be replacing Woodford with Richard Colwell of Columbia Threadneedle and Nick Purves of RWC, Omnis has not revealed who will take over on the Income & Growth fund.

Instead, Openwork’s £6.8bn asset management business said in a press release late on Thursday that its selection process for a new manager is “at an advanced stage with a final decision expected shortly”.

The press release said: “The new fund manager will be mandated to maximise value in the Omnis Income & Growth Fund highlighting confidence in the sector and Omnis’s diversified portfolio. Omnis will continue to work with Woodford during the transition.”

Omnis distances itself from Equity Income

Openwork said they provide a range of portfolios that have no exposure to the Income & Growth fund for advisers who want alternative options for their clients. It also stressed that the segregated mandate is not exposed to the Woodford Equity Income fund that suspended on Monday.

The SJP decision has been described as a “knee-jerk” reaction precisely because its £3.5bn managed by Woodford was held in a segregated mandate and therefore was not exposed to the same issues in the third-party fund.

Openwork wealth and platform director Mike Morrow said:“We have been working hard with the Omnis Investment Team over recent months to ensure that the Omnis Income & Growth Fund is delivering to its mandate and have the utmost confidence in the value of portfolio and the underlying investments within it.”

Openwork will be providing regular updates to advisers and their clients to ensure they are kept fully informed.

Woodford video on Omnis website

Omnis uploaded a video of Woodford defending his recent poor performance to its website just a week ago.

Speaking in a filmed presentation, Woodford said his strategy was beginning to work having not done so for the last two years.

He said: “This is the most attractive portfolio I can remember having in place since 1992. Even now, I’m struggling to think how what I built in ’92, which was a very difficult year for performance for me personally, could have been as attractive as what I’ve built today.

“By attractive I mean the inherent undervaluation of the companies we have the in portfolio today.”

The portfolio is focused on stocks exposed to the UK economy, such as housebuilding, retail and property, alongside healthcare, science and innovation, he said. “I know I’ve been through a really difficult time. It’s been really difficult for you guys to have the patience and trust in me to deliver,” he told the audience.

Omnis Income & Growth lost investors 8.78% in May. It appeared alongside three other Woodford funds, including the SJP UK High Income mandate, in the 10 worst-performing funds for the month.

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