‘Oracle of Oxford’ Neil Woodford Aims for Comeback with New Investment Firm

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Biotech investor Neil Woodford is poised for a comeback after a fall from grace two years ago. Woodford will serve as the chief investment officer of Woodford Capital Management, a firm expected to focus primarily on the biotech sector.

Woodford’s firm will be based in the United Kingdom. Some of the companies the new entity plans to focus on include those Woodford previously invested in, Bloomberg reported. Woodford’s previous investment fund, Woodford Equity Income Fund, was shut down in 2019 after a series of bad investments in companies that were not currently listed and he could not ultimately cover them, the BBC reported. Those bad investments and the shuttering of the fund led to multiple investigations, which hindered many investors from being able to remove their remaining finances from the Woodford-administered fund.

Woodford, who had earned a reputation as a savvy investor that earned him the nickname “Oracle of Oxford,” apologized for his failings in an interview with the Telegraph, the first media outlet to report his plans.

"I'm very sorry for what I did wrong. What I was responsible for was two years of underperformance -- I was the fund manager, the investment strategy was mine, I owned it and it delivered a period of underperformance,” he told the Telegraph, according to the BBC report.

With the new fund, Woodford is champing at the bit for a comeback. He will work with Acacia Research, a U.S. investment company. Acacia will advise Woodford on a portfolio of life sciences company holdings. Those companies happen to have been acquired by Acacia from the Woodford Equity Income Fund's administrators after it shut down, the BBC said. Some of the companies that Woodford will be working with again as a fund manager include Immunocore, Kymab, Synairgen, Nanopore and others, according to reports.

Woodford had been a significant investor in GlaxoSmithKline and was instrumental in forcing a change of leadership that ultimately delivered Emma Walmsley as the company’s current chief executive officer. Following a 2015 three-part deal with Novartis that saw GSK acquire the Swiss giant's global vaccines business, excluding the influenza vaccines, Woodford was among a number of investors who pushed for  GSK to break up into multiple companies.

While Woodford is poised for a comeback, there could be a roadblock in his path. According to Bloomberg, any comeback is subject to an ongoing investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority, which could forbid him from managing money for certain investors.

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