Woodford could face more pressure as Jupiter inherits mandate

Filings reveal the slew of biotech and growth stocks Ben Whitmore will take on

Jupiter manager Ben Whitmore is predicted to sell a slew of biotech names he inherits from Neil Woodford in the Omnis Income and Growth fund adding more selling pressure to the stocks.

Circassia Pharmaceuticals and Netscientific are among the more than 20 companies in which Woodford Investment Management reduced its stake on Friday, according to a number of regulatory filings published on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

A Woodford spokesperson confirmed the filings related to the transfer of a mandate to a new manager and were not connected to selling from the suspended Woodford Equity Income fund as it tries to improve liquidity. The regulatory filing from Proton Partners, in which Woodford passed on a 1.23% stake, confirmed this mandate was the Omnis Income and Growth fund, which Whitmore (pictured) is taking over.

Based on the filings, he would inherit a 15.66% stake in Eve Sleep and 10.18% in Netscientific. He would also hold more than 5% in GYG and Xeros Technology. The change in positions all took place on 5 July and companies were all notified on 8 July, according to the filings.

CompanyPrevious stakeCurrent stakeOmnis Income & Growth stake
Kier Group15.87%13.97%1.9%
Arix Bioscience21.89%19.78%2.11%
4d pharma27.00%24.08%2.92%
Mereo Biopharma30.46%27.56%2.9%
Xeros Technology39.71%33.18%6.53%
Amigo Holdings5.57%Less than 5%At least 0.57%
ReNeuron Group34.58%33.02%1.56%
Eddie Stobart Logistics25.00%22.89%2.11%
Circassia Pharmaceuticals24.47%19.95%4.52%
Tissue Regenix26.00%22.16%3.84%
Topps Tiles5.09%Less than 5%At least 0.09%
Non-Standard Finance25.02%23.90%1.12%
Proton Partners49.78%48.55%1.23%
Eve Sleep46.82%31.16%15.66%
Sensyne Health14.55%12.62%1.63%
Allied Minds23.22%21.64%1.58%
IP Group14.08%13.41%0.67%
Provident Financial17.98%16.83%1.15%
Source: Investegate

‘He’s got a job on his hands’

The holdings transferred vary significantly from Jupiter UK Special Situations, which has large allocations to large cap financials, such as Aviva and Standard Chartered, and consumer services, such as Tesco and WPP, according to the fund’s annual report published in March.

Whitmore is similar in style to Woodford before his style drifted from large-cap defensives to small-cap biotech, said Willis Owen head of person investing Adrian Lowcock.

“He’s got a job on his hands, there’s no two ways about it,” Lowcock said.

Biotech is not going to be a core area that Whitmore invests in, he said. “I suspect you’ll see that reduced significantly; it’s a very high growth, high risk area of the market.”

Woodford joined by three further sellers

While Woodford is currently the only forced seller on the market, Invesco has also been reducing a number of stocks it holds in common with the Equity Income fund.

The Omnis mandate, plus the SJP mandate that has been pulled from Woodford and handed to RWC and Columbia Threadneedle, adds two more sellers to the market.

7IM senior investment manager Peter Sleep said based on the lack of overlap between the securities transferred in the Omnis mandate and the UK Special Situations, Whitmore may sell everything.

“Clearly, Whitmore and SJP have less stocks to sell, but the prices of the shares they are selling are all really weak given four major shareholders are running for the exit. It could be quite ugly,” Sleep said.

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