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Neil Woodford funds scandal moving to an end as Waystone bids for Link

Neil Woodford (Woodford Investment Management/PA) (PA Media)
Neil Woodford (Woodford Investment Management/PA) (PA Media)

The funds boss looking to buy Link, the administrator still embroiled in the Neil Woodford affair, says he hopes a deal can bring peace to many thousands of investors.

Derek Delaney of Dublin’s Waystone Group is in exclusive talks to buy Link Fund Solutions, for an undisclosed amount.

Link was the administrator of two funds run by Neil Woodford, a one-time stock picking star who saw his £10 billion empire collapse as investors raced for the exit on poor returns.

Around 300,000 investors are still trapped in what is left of the funds. The Financial Conduct Authority is keen for secure a deal for Link and says it is in “advanced confidential discussions”.

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Waystone wouldn’t be involved in handing back money itself, but it hopes the process will be smoother once a deal is done.

Delaney said: “We are delighted this deal might enable the whole industry to move on from Woodford. We look forward to being a major player in the UK, in a market that has learnt the lessons of Woodford.”

Asked what lessons they are, he replied: “They have learned the need to be able to ensure that the investment manager is acting in accordance with the prospectus.”

If successful, Waystone plans to take on Link’s UK staff, about 200 people. Waystone is moving towards overseeing assets of about $1 trillion.

A stock market float of the company has been mooted by industry insiders.

The Financial Conduct Authority said last year that enforcement action against Link could include a £50 million penalty. The watchdog has given Link time to sell assets to find redress payments to Woodford investors.

Link would not receive any of these monies, it has confirmed. Woodford was once a huge success story and a respected voice on company valuations.

He made his name first at Invesco then under his own name. An FCA investigation into his dealings continues.

For Waystone, the deal could be a game-changer, perhaps one that reassures small investors.

Delaney told the Standard: "We’ve been building our presence in London quite steadily over the past few years. This is because of the importance of the London and UK market as the largest domestic fund domicile in Europe."

He added: “Waystone is looking to bring back certainty into the UK investment landscape, for the market as a whole and for investors within Link.There are significant opportunities here that bring a new dimension to UK investors such as the emergence of open-ended investment companies (OEIC) and Long Term asset funds (LTAFs).

We are hopeful that the next few months will enable us to bring positive and dynamic growth into the fund industry here in London.”