UK markets closed

Woodford listed fund gets 'greater flexibility' for Northern Trust loan

By Noor Zainab Hussain and Carolyn Cohn

By Noor Zainab Hussain and Carolyn Cohn

LONDON (Reuters) - Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT) <WPCT.L>, the only listed trust run by Neil Woodford, said on Friday it had agreed greater borrowing flexibility with its lender Northern Trust as its works on selling some assets.

The trust has come under scrutiny after the veteran money manager froze his flagship equity income fund in June because it could not meet redemption requests.

WPCT has said it may fire Woodford, who faces criticism from regulators and lawmakers for investing in illiquid unlisted companies, as its investment manager.

Woodford has said he is "extremely sorry" for the suspension and is repositioning the assets of the frozen equity income fund towards more liquid assets.

"The company has agreed with its lender greater flexibility around certain obligations relating to the borrowing base for a period of time while the company pursues the disposal of certain unquoted assets," WPCT said in a statement.

The existing facility requires WPCT to cut its borrowing if the trust's value falls. WPCT said last month its administrator had cut the value of one of its biggest holdings.

WPCT had 65% of its investments in unlisted assets in May, when it last reported its holdings.

WPCT said it had agreed an interest rate for the Northern Trust facility of LIBOR plus 1.5%. It previously paid LIBOR plus 1.35% on the facility, which was due to expire in Jan 2020, according to its 2018 annual report.

It also said it would not make new investments without consulting Northern Trust.

The existing credit facility was for up to 150 million pounds ($184.40 million), allowing WPCT under its investment policy to borrow up to 20% of net asset value (NAV) at the time of borrowing.

The company said its borrowings were 113.7 million pounds as at Sept 4 and its gearing had increased to 17.1 percent of NAV.

WPCT shares were trading at 42.75 pence at 1158 GMT, up 0.35%. The stock was ejected from the FTSE mid-cap index <.FTMC> earlier this week.

($1 = 0.8135 pounds)

(Editing by Alexander Smith)