UK watchdog eyes $358 million redress for Woodford fund collapse


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LONDON — Link Fund Solutions, which managed the collapsed LF Woodford Equity Income Fund, could be forced to pay up to 306 million pounds ($358 million) in redress, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority said on Monday.

The FCA was responding to news that Dye and Durham is proposing to take over LFS and six other companies in the Link Group, all authorized by the UK financial watchdog.

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The planned takeover forced the FCA to update the market on its lengthy probe into the collapse of WEIF in June 2019 which left more than 300,000 investors nursing losses.

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LFS was the authorized corporate director for the 3.7 billion WEIF, which was finally closed in October 2019, and whose assets had been picked by veteran star manager Neil Woodford.

“The FCA has investigated the circumstances leading to the suspension of the WEIF and is likely to seek to require LFS to pay a financial penalty and/or consumer redress,” the FCA said.

Woodford was criticized by lawmakers and investors for holding a large number of illiquid assets, making it hard to meet redemption calls after months of underperformance.

Link could not be immediately reached for comment. Any final decision to seek redress could be challenged by Link.

“This redress proposal reflects the FCA’s current view of LFS’s failings in managing the liquidity of the WEIF,” the regulator said.

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The FCA said it has approved D&D’s acquisition of LFS, subject to a condition to commit to making up any shortfall within LFS in the amount available to cover any redress payments.

No other conditions have been imposed on LFS or the six other firms being taken over by D&D, the FCA said.

The watchdog said it could not give any further information because its investigation into the circumstances surrounding WEIF’s suspension continued, but it will provide an update as soon as it can.

The FCA told lawmakers in January it was close to a decision on whether to take enforcement action regarding the suspension of WEIF in June 2019. ($1 = 0.8546 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Lisa Shumaker)



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