He’s back: Star stockpicker Neil Woodford returns to City in spectacular style

Michael Bow
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THE MOST celebrated stock market guru in Britain made a bold step back into the fray yesterday after clinching a deal to manage more than £3.5bn of cash from one of the country’s biggest wealth managers.

Money manager Neil Woodford, whose investment prowess would have turned £1,000 of cash in 1990 into £23,265 today, has been handed £3.65bn of customer cash to look after by the FTSE 100 wealth manager St James’s Place.

Woodford is set to leave Invesco Perpetual, his current employer where he has £33bn under management, on 29 April after 26 years.

He is establishing his own money management group, Woodford Investment Management (WIM).

St James’s chief investment officer Chris Ralph yesterday said the firm will transfer the money Woodford runs at Invesco to WIM, despite the fact the new enterprise is still without regulatory approval.

Migrating the funds is a major endorsement of the 54-year-old – and a significant blow to his alma mater Invesco Perpetual.

St James’s Place, which caters for well-heeled savers and is the third biggest wealth manager in the UK behind Coutts and Barclays, will pull a total of £7.7bn that Woodford previously managed for the firm out of Invesco, it said yesterday.

On top of £3.65bn to WIM, Invesco will hand a further £3.35bn to fund manager Threadneedle, St James’s Place’s top shareholder.

Three of its top fund managers – Richard Colwell, Stephen Thornber and Jim Cielinski – will come together to run the £3.35bn as a multi asset strategy to replace Woodford.

A further £720m will be pulled from Invesco by St James’s Place and placed with fund manager Manulife Financial. Woodford shocked the markets last October when he announced he would quit the Henley-on-Thames based firm he joined in 1988.

Invesco quickly appointed Woodford’s understudy Mark Barnett to take control of his top two funds – the Income and High Income funds – but since the departure was announced withdrawals have stated to mount, with about £5bn pulled.

Woodford will officially join Oakley Capital Management, the group led by serial entrepreneur Peter Dubens, at the end of his Invesco tenure and use it as a launch pad for WIM.

Shares in New York listed Invesco closed down 2.73 per cent yesterday.