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Britain's best known stockpicker posts apology on Youtube after suspension of flagship fund

Key Points
  • Woodford Investment Management has suspended its flagship Woodford Equity Income fund after a slew of investor withdrawals and ongoing performance woes.
  • The fund has shrunk from £10.2 billion ($12.9 billion) in managed assets to £3.7 billion.
  • Neil Woodford told investors he is "extremely sorry" about the decision.

Britain's best known portfolio manager apologized to investors after being forced to suspend trading on his flagship fund after mounting losses and withdrawals.

Neil Woodford, who launched Woodford Investment Management in 2014 after a successful spell at Invesco Perpetual, posted a YouTube video late Tuesday in which he explained the decision and offered an emotional apology to the thousands of investors affected by the suspension.

The firm announced Monday that it would suspend all trading in the Woodford Equity Income fund after the redemption of a £250 million ($318 million) investment from local authority Kent County Council.

In the three-minute video, Woodford said his current strategy is to reduce the fund's exposure to illiquid and unquoted stocks to zero, a process which was made "much more difficult" by massive outflows from the fund.

At its peak, the fund managed £10.2 billion of assets, but according to financial services and research firm Morningstar, that had shrunk to just £3.7 billion as of the end of May.

"The suspension of dealing in the fund gives us the time and space to execute that strategy to reduce our exposure and redeploy that capital into more liquid stocks in the FTSE 350, but primarily the FTSE 100, that fit in with my core strategy, but which are more liquid and more conventional, if you like," Woodford said.

He added that he was "extremely sorry" that the firm had taken the decision and would keep investors informed with daily updates, while using the 28-day suspension to reposition the fund.

"We understand our investors' frustration," Woodford added. "All I can say in response to that is that this decision was motivated by your interests, our investors."