UK Markets closed

Army officer's intelligence didn't help Woodford when he came to investing in tech start-ups

JIM ARMITAGE

It’s hard to overstate the importance to Neil Woodford’s investment machine of Saku Saha.

Having joined the now-fallen star’s team at Invesco, former Army intelligence officer Saha was a key member of the crew when Woodford struck out on his own.

He served as the gatekeeper for early-stage tech businesses trying to access Woodford cash. Woodford made the final call, but Saha was his consigliere on such investments.

Which is why our disclosure of his departure today is so significant.

For it was precisely Saha’s types of investment tips that got the funds in so much trouble. High risk and difficult to sell, they triggered the tangle in which Woodford is; stuck with a portfolio of illiquid stocks and demands from investors for hundreds of millions of pounds of redemptions.

One such stock is Industrial Heat, a firm hoping to create electricity with a process called cold fusion. Most physicists put the science in the same bucket as alchemy and Uri Geller. Not only did Woodford invest, but last September upped its valuation on the books by 357%.

After a gushing Woodford blog on the upgrade, science PhD Mike Ingle wrote in, saying cold fusion was “garbage” and asking how many university-level science grads the fund manager had on the team. The best it could come up with was one, with a pharmacology doctorate. “Admittedly that isn’t relevant to Industrial Heat,” it said sheepishly.

We don’t know precisely which Woodford picks were Sandhurst-trained Saha’s. Nor do we know the exact reasons for his departure, beyond it being by mutual consent. But it’s hard not to see the end of Saha’s career at the firm as a significant chapter in this parable of foolhardy City investing.

  • Tech expert reveals nine ways to make your work-life better
    Style
    The Independent

    Tech expert reveals nine ways to make your work-life better

    Do you feel yourself dreading the stress of the next workday before the current one is even over?A 2017 survey by the American Psychological Association showing that 61% of respondents chose work as their top source of anxiety and more and more of us are becoming more anxious about, and less fulfilled

  • Finance
    Reuters

    Japan urges G20 members with fiscal scope to boost spending

    Japan called on G20 countries with fiscal space to ramp up spending to help the global economy weather risks, including the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Saturday. "I told the G20 ministers that the spread of the coronavirus epidemic ... could have a serious

  • The ECB wants to talk to you about inflation. But will it listen?
    Finance
    Reuters

    The ECB wants to talk to you about inflation. But will it listen?

    FRANKFURT/RIYADH (Reuters) - For many people, the language of European Central Bank policymakers is so impenetrable, it could be beamed from another planet. Now, however, the ECB experts are in for a dose of real life as they meet audiences ranging from students to clergy this year to get their views

  • Cliffhanger for small investors who poured money into Yorkshire mine
    Finance
    The Guardian

    Cliffhanger for small investors who poured money into Yorkshire mine

    Cliffhanger for small investors who poured money into Yorkshire mine. Thousands of locals bought stock in a new potash mine near Whitby. But the money ran out and big business moved in, leaving shareholders with a tricky choice

  • Wilder vs Fury: High PPV price to watch fight live could push fans towards illegal free links, experts warn
    Finance
    The Independent

    Wilder vs Fury: High PPV price to watch fight live could push fans towards illegal free links, experts warn

    One of the most highly-anticipated fights in decades will see WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder return to the ring on Saturday night to face Tyson Fury, with millions of people around the world expected to tune in to watch – though not all of them legally.The Las Vegas showdown comes 15 months

  • A 10% dividend yield I’d buy for my ISA and hold until I retire
    Finance
    Fool.co.uk

    A 10% dividend yield I’d buy for my ISA and hold until I retire

    Looking for big yields on a budget? This banking giant could be just what you've been hunting for, says Royston Wild.The post A 10% dividend yield I’d buy for my ISA and hold until I retire appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • Why I think this investment could beat a FTSE 100 index fund
    Finance

    Why I think this investment could beat a FTSE 100 index fund

    When in comes to index fund investing, could the FTSE 250 perform better than the FTSE 100?The post Why I think this investment could beat a FTSE 100 index fund appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • 3 reasons to not overpay a mortgage
    Finance
    Fool.co.uk

    3 reasons to not overpay a mortgage

    Paul Summers reveals why he's chosen to stop tackling his biggest debt.The post 3 reasons to not overpay a mortgage appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • Stop saving and starting investing! Why I’d buy Lloyds’ 6% dividend yield today
    Finance
    Fool.co.uk

    Stop saving and starting investing! Why I’d buy Lloyds’ 6% dividend yield today

    The Lloyds share price is rising after a solid set of results. Roland Head explains why he rates the shares as a buy.The post Stop saving and starting investing! Why I'd buy Lloyds' 6% dividend yield today appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • The biggest obstacle standing between Bernie Sanders and the White House
    News
    The Independent

    The biggest obstacle standing between Bernie Sanders and the White House

    Buoyed by popular-vote wins in Iowa and New Hampshire and small donations from millions of supporters, Bernie Sanders enters the Nevada caucus with the lead in 10 national polls, with forecasters predicting his victory with as much as 32 per cent of the vote.But the Democratic frontrunner is facing a

  • U.S. blocking G20 mention of climate change in draft communique - sources
    Finance

    U.S. blocking G20 mention of climate change in draft communique - sources

    The United States is against mentioning climate change in the communique of the world's financial leaders, G20 diplomats said, after a new draft of the joint statement showed the G20 are considering including it as a risk factor to growth. Finance ministers and central bankers of the world's

  • Buffett defends stock investments, which fuelled record Berkshire profit
    News
    Reuters

    Buffett defends stock investments, which fuelled record Berkshire profit

    Warren Buffett on Saturday forcefully defended Berkshire Hathaway Inc's decision to invest heavily in stocks of companies such as Apple Inc as he labours through a four-year drought since his last major acquisition of a company. In his widely-read annual letter to Berkshire shareholders, the 89

  • 4 things you can do to improve your financial security
    Finance
    Fool.co.uk

    4 things you can do to improve your financial security

    If you’re worried about financial security, as many Britons are, the key is to take charge of your finances... sooner rather than later.The post 4 things you can do to improve your financial security appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • A stock market crash in 2020? I’m prepared!
    Finance
    Fool.co.uk

    A stock market crash in 2020? I’m prepared!

    Edward Sheldon explains how he's prepared his portfolio for a worst-case scenario. The post A stock market crash in 2020? I'm prepared! appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • Here’s how I’d invest £25 a month in a Stocks and Shares ISA
    Finance
    Fool.co.uk

    Here’s how I’d invest £25 a month in a Stocks and Shares ISA

    The stock market can transform relatively small sums into a substantial nest egg. Here's how one Fool would go about it.The post Here's how I'd invest £25 a month in a Stocks and Shares ISA appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • Finance
    Reuters

    India says discovers fields with over 3,000 tonnes of gold ore

    India, the world's second-biggest gold consumer, has discovered gold fields with reserves of over 3,000 tonnes in its most populous northern state, a government official said on Saturday. India mines between 2 to 3 tonnes of gold annually, relying on expensive imports to fulfil nearly all of its

  • I’ll hold Sirius Minerals for now. But there’s a high-growth stock I’d buy today
    Finance
    Fool.co.uk

    I’ll hold Sirius Minerals for now. But there’s a high-growth stock I’d buy today

    New developments in the SXX story, but it’s this FTSE 250 stock that shows real potential  The post I’ll hold Sirius Minerals for now. But there's a high-growth stock I'd buy today appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • No savings at 50? Here are 2 things I’d do right away
    Finance
    Fool.co.uk

    No savings at 50? Here are 2 things I’d do right away

    Getting into the right frame of mind for long-term saving and investing can be hard. But these two things might help you do it.The post No savings at 50? Here are 2 things I'd do right away appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • 2 hot growth stocks with popular products! Will they rise in 2020?
    Finance
    Fool.co.uk

    2 hot growth stocks with popular products! Will they rise in 2020?

    Can these stocks meet the demand for their sought-after products and create a share-price explosion?The post 2 hot growth stocks with popular products! Will they rise in 2020? appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • These FTSE 100 dividend stocks yield 6%. Here’s what I’d buy
    Finance
    Fool.co.uk

    These FTSE 100 dividend stocks yield 6%. Here’s what I’d buy

    Roland Head looks at the Glencore and Centrica share prices and explains which one he'd buy today.The post These FTSE 100 dividend stocks yield 6%. Here's what I'd buy appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • Small stocks can make big money. Here’s the proof!
    Finance
    Fool.co.uk

    Small stocks can make big money. Here’s the proof!

    Ignore the tiddlers at your peril – they could help make you rich.The post Small stocks can make big money. Here's the proof! appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • Let's come together to tax tech giants, say G20 officials eyeing $100 bln boost
    News
    Reuters

    Let's come together to tax tech giants, say G20 officials eyeing $100 bln boost

    Leading world economies must show unity in dealing with aggressive "tax optimisation" by global digital giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook, G20 officials said on Saturday. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is developing global rules by to make digital companies

  • Why I would avoid this FTSE 100 stalwart
    Finance
    Fool.co.uk

    Why I would avoid this FTSE 100 stalwart

    Jabran Khan looks into recent news about a well-known supermarket brand.The post Why I would avoid this FTSE 100 stalwart appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • France ready to hear U.S. proposal on digital tax
    News
    Reuters

    France ready to hear U.S. proposal on digital tax

    France is ready to listen to the U.S. administration's proposal of offering U.S. companies a "safe harbour" from a new, international digital tax, its finance minister said on Saturday, while admitting that he still didn't know what that meant in practice. "I'm not in a position

  • Samsung Electronics confirms coronavirus case at phone factory complex in South Korea
    Finance
    Reuters

    Samsung Electronics confirms coronavirus case at phone factory complex in South Korea

    Samsung Electronics said on Saturday that one coronavirus case had been confirmed at its mobile device factory complex in the southeastern city of Gumi, causing a shutdown of its entire facility there until Monday morning. Samsung Electronics, the world's top smartphone maker, said the floor where