Tuesday 2 July 2019 5:36 pm

Woodford sells shrimp shares on the stock floor

Neil Woodford has slashed his fund’s stake in Benchmark Holdings, a genetics firm that develops disease-resistant shrimp, offloading £23m of shares as his asset selling spree continues. 

The stockpicker’s company, Woodford Investment Management, cut its stake in Benchmark from 12.5 per cent to under 2 per cent in a transaction last Friday. 

Read more: Neil Woodford keeps flagship fund under lock and key

Benchmark’s shares were up 8.9 per cent today, hitting 55p by Tuesday afternoon compared to 50.5p at Monday’s close.   

The biotech company, which is listed on the AIM index, develops solutions for the aquaculture industry – the farming of fish, molluscs, and other aquatic organisms. 

Woodford Investment Management had previously held a 19.6 per cent stake in Benchmark, but cut it to 12.5 per cent in December. 

Woodford has been offloading assets since his flagship Equity Income fund was suspended on 3 June after becoming overwhelmed by investor withdrawals. 

It was announced yesterday that the fund would remain suspended for at least another 28 days. In a video released on social media last night, Woodford defended his strategy of focusing on “undervalued assets”, and said it would “remain at the front and centre” of his portfolio.

Woodford also jettisoned his 12 per cent stake in Russian property investment specialist Raven yesterday, selling 72.1m shares back to the company.

It was announced earlier today that the chair of Woodford’s Patient Capital trust, Susan Searle, had resigned her chairmanship of Mercia Technologies with immediate effect. 

“I have taken the decision that now is the right time for me to step aside so I can continue to make the appropriate time commitment for my other roles,” Searle said.