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Portfolio Manager Appointment

24 October 2019

The Board of Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc (the “Company”) is pleased to announce that it has agreed heads of terms to appoint Schroder Investment Management Limited (“Schroders”) as the Company’s portfolio manager. Shortly following the appointment, which is expected by the end of 2019, the Company will be renamed Schroder UK Public Private Trust plc.

Schroders intends to manage the portfolio in line with the Company’s existing investment objective and policy. It will bring together its successful and established investment approach across both quoted and unquoted companies to manage the Company for the long-term, in support of positive outcomes for shareholders and British enterprise.

Schroders has extensive experience across both public and private markets and has the relevant sector expertise, including across healthcare and technology, and will operate a team-based approach to manage the Company’s portfolio. Schroders’ beliefs are aligned with the Company’s philosophy of identifying and providing access to investment opportunities irrespective of public or private ownership structure.

Susan Searle, Chairman, commented:

“Following a competitive process, we are delighted to be appointing Schroders as the Company’s portfolio manager. Its careful and considered long-term approach to investment, backed by its substantial research resources in both public and private assets, makes it the natural choice to manage the Company’s portfolio.

“I would like to thank our shareholders for their support throughout this process as we have worked to put in place the right portfolio manager against the background of challenging circumstances. Throughout the process, the Board has had a clear focus on achieving an outcome that protects and enhances long-term shareholder value and we believe Schroders is best placed to deliver this. A well-managed handover is underway to protect shareholder value and deliver long-term performance for all shareholders.”

The Board has agreed a fee structure which aligns the interests of shareholders with those of the incoming portfolio manager. On appointment, Schroders will not take a management fee for three months; thereafter Schroders will be paid a management fee at the rate of 1.0% per annum on market capitalisation up to £600 million and 0.8% per annum thereafter.

There is no performance fee payable until 31 December 2022, at which point Schroders will be eligible to a fee of 15% of any excess returns above a NAV per share of 77p (the latest reported NAV per share is 63.23p as at 22 October 2019). Thereafter, a performance fee of 15% of any performance above a hurdle of 10% of net assets each year will be payable, subject to a high watermark.

Further details will be announced following Schroders’ formal appointment.

Correction: Board changes

3 October 2019

This is a restatement of the announcement published at 07:00 on 30 September 2019 (RNS number 0448O) correcting the name of the company where Raymond Abbott previously served as a non-executive director (Climate Change Capital Group Limited) and also discloses an additional former non-executive director role at Foresight 3 VCT plc, which subsequently merged with Foresight 4 VCT plc. The full corrected announcement is included below.

The Board of Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc (the “Company” or “WPCT”) announces the appointment of Raymond Abbott as an independent non-executive director from 1 October 2019.

Raymond joins the Board with strong experience in the investment trust sector and also brings expertise in early stage technology investments. Raymond is the Chairman of Foresight 4 VCT plc, Scottish Building Society and Integrated Environmental Solutions Ltd and he has recently been appointed as Chair of the advisory panel for the North East Fund.

Raymond is an accountant by background, beginning his career at KPMG before pursuing a career in venture capital and private equity, latterly as Managing Director, Alliance Trust Equity Partners. He has experience as a board director and a fund manager with an emphasis on private equity.

The Board also announces that Louise Makin has stated her intention to step down as a non-executive director on 1 October 2019.

Susan Searle, Chair of WPCT, said: “I am pleased to welcome Raymond to the Board of WPCT. His blend of experience across both investment trusts and working with early stage technology businesses means he will be able to add strong and relevant expertise to the Board.

“Louise has played a vital role on the Board since the Company floated four years ago and I would like to thank her for her significant contribution and wish her well for the future. We committed to evolving the Board and Raymond joins Jane Tufnell and Stephen Cohen as appointments to the Board of WPCT with diverse and complementary experience, especially in the investment trust sector.”

Interim report and accounts

30 September 2019

Woodford Patient Capital Trust PLC (WPCT or the Company), announces the unaudited Half-Year Report for the period ended 30 June 2019.

Key points:

  • Net Asset Value of £654 million as at 30 June 2019, following interim review
  • Borrowings reduced to £111.1m as at 26 Sept 2019
  • Independent valuation review of the top 20 investments completed, following mandate from the Board
  • Board agreed with its lender greater flexibility around certain obligations relating to the Company’s debt facility for a period of time while the Company pursues the disposal of certain unquoted assets
  • Stephen Cohen, Jane Tufnell and Raymond Abbott appointed as independent Non-Executive Directors of WPCT, consistent with previously stated objective to evolve the Board
  • Board continues to evaluate the position of the Portfolio Manager and remains in dialogue with other potential managers
  • Susan Searle, Chairman, Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc, says:

    “This has undoubtedly been the most challenging period for the Company since it floated in 2015. Events at the Portfolio Manager have been disappointing for everyone associated with WPCT, shareholders and Board members alike. Protecting shareholders’ interests as these difficult circumstances continue to play out remains the Board’s priority. We have already taken a number of decisive and proactive measures following the gating of the LF Woodford Equity Income Fund (WEIF) and remain focused on taking the necessary actions to support the future value of the Company’s portfolio.”

    “In the near term the Company faces a number of difficult issues, but it is important to remember that the Company was established to provide ‘patient capital’ to support the development of high-potential UK growth companies. Its investment objective is to provide long-term returns to shareholders as the underlying technologies of the investee companies become proven and commercialised. The Board’s focus is to navigate through the current challenges without unduly impacting these longer term potential returns to shareholders.”

    “I want to thank shareholders for their continued support and understanding as we endeavour to create time to stabilise the portfolio. We are focused on maximising value and restoring confidence in WPCT and its portfolio.”

    Neil Woodford, Portfolio Manager, Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc, says:

    “Shareholders have endured an extremely disappointing six-month period, for which I am very sorry. While shareholders can be forgiven for thinking there are no positives, I continue to believe that the majority of the businesses we have invested in are making good progress, in line with our pre-agreed milestones.”

    “This is not to gloss over the setbacks which the portfolio has suffered since WPCT was launched in 2015, nor the significant downward pressure both the NAV and share price have endured since the suspension of WEIF on 3 June 2019.”

    “The journey to positive outcomes has been longer and more painful than investors would have liked, or anticipated, but the returns to be gained by delivering on the progress, I believe, will ultimately reward the patient investor.”

    Download the interim report to 30 June 2019 (PDF 4.2MB)

Board changes

30 September 2019

The Board of Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc (the “Company” or “WPCT”) announces the appointment of Raymond Abbott as an independent non-executive director from 1 October 2019.

Raymond joins the Board with strong experience in the investment trust sector and also brings expertise in early stage technology investments. Raymond is the Chairman of Foresight 4 VCT plc, Scottish Building Society and Integrated Environmental Solutions Ltd and he has recently been appointed as Chair of the advisory panel for the North East Fund.

Raymond is an accountant by background, beginning his career at KPMG before pursuing a career in venture capital and private equity, latterly as Managing Director, Alliance Trust Equity Partners. He has experience as a board director and a fund manager with an emphasis on private equity.

The Board also announces that Louise Makin has stated her intention to step down as a non-executive director on 1 October 2019.

Susan Searle, Chair of WPCT, said: “I am pleased to welcome Raymond to the Board of WPCT. His blend of experience across both investment trusts and working with early stage technology businesses means he will be able to add strong and relevant expertise to the Board.

“Louise has played a vital role on the Board since it floated four years ago and I would like to thank her for her significant contribution and wish her well for the future. We committed to evolving the Board and Raymond joins Jane Tufnell and Stephen Cohen as appointments to the Board of WPCT with diverse and complementary experience, especially in the investment trust sector.”

Asset Valuations

26 September 2019

The Board of Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc (the “Company”) has been notified by Link Fund Solutions Limited (“Link”), that it intends to reduce the valuations of three of the Company’s holdings. These valuation adjustments reflect the challenging fundraising environment for these businesses which may impact their ability to or the level at which they may be able to raise capital in the near-term.

Following the valuation adjustments, the Company’s net asset value (“NAV”) will reduce by approximately 3.1 pence per share and will be reflected in the Company’s net asset value as at close of business 25 September 2019 (which will be announced to the market on 26 September 2019).

Link, through its Fair Value Pricing Committee, is responsible for the independent valuation of the portfolio of the Company. Link, with the support of an independent valuation firm (IHS Markit), undertakes the valuation of the Company’s unquoted assets in accordance with the Financial Reporting Standard (FRS) 102 and International Private Equity and Venture Capital Guidelines (IPEV).

The Company will be announcing its interim results for the six-month period ending 30 June 2019, on Monday 30 September 2019.

This announcement contains Inside Information as defined under the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014.

Board changes

2 September 2019

The Board of Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc (the “Company” or “WPCT”) announces the appointment of Jane Tufnell as an independent non-executive director with immediate effect. Jane will also become a member of the Audit, Risk and Valuation and Management Engagement Committees.

Jane joins the Board with extensive investment trust and fund management experience, including a number of board and non-executive roles. Jane has spent the majority of her career at Ruffer Investment Management, which she co-founded in 1994. She is currently Chair of Odyssean Investment Trust PLC, Senior Independent Director of Record PLC and a non-executive director of ICG Enterprise Trust PLC, The Diverse Income Trust plc and JPMorgan Claverhouse Investment Trust PLC.

The Board also announces that Steven Harris has stated his intention to step down as a non-executive director on 30 September 2019.

Susan Searle, Chair of WPCT, said: “I am pleased to welcome Jane to the Board of WPCT. I believe that her fund management expertise and familiarity with investment trusts will bring valuable experience to the Board and I look forward to working with her during this important period for WPCT. I would also like to thank Steven for his contribution to WPCT over the past four years.”

Company update

16 August 2019

The Board of Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc (“WPCT” or the “Company”) announces that it was notified on 27 July 2019 that, Neil Woodford, Head of Investment at Woodford Investment Management Limited, the Company’s Portfolio Manager, sold 1,750,000 ordinary shares of one penny each in the share capital of WPCT (“Ordinary Shares”).

The notification from the Portfolio Manager to the Company on 27 July 2019 stated:

“Following the suspension of the Woodford Equity Income Fund, Mr Woodford elected not to take any income or dividends from Woodford Investment Management Limited whilst the Woodford Equity Income Fund remained suspended. In the circumstances, whilst a reluctant seller, between 3 and 8 July Mr Woodford sold 1.75million of his WPCT shares (around 60% of his holding). The sole reason that he did so was in order to meet personal financial obligations, including a tax liability.”

Whilst Mr Woodford is not considered a ‘person discharging managerial responsibilities’ within the meaning of MAR (as defined below), in consultation with its advisers, the Board has determined that this information should be made available to the public at the soonest opportunity.

Following the sale, the Board is advised by the Portfolio Manager that Mr Woodford holds 1,251,532 Ordinary Shares, representing 0.14 per cent. of the issued share capital.

This announcement contains Inside Information as defined under the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014 (“MAR”).

Manager share dealings

29 July 2019

The Board of Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc (“WPCT” or the “Company”) announces that it was notified on 27 July 2019 that, Neil Woodford, Head of Investment at Woodford Investment Management Limited, the Company’s Portfolio Manager, sold 1,750,000 ordinary shares of one penny each in the share capital of WPCT (“Ordinary Shares”).

The notification from the Portfolio Manager to the Company on 27 July 2019 stated:

“Following the suspension of the Woodford Equity Income Fund, Mr Woodford elected not to take any income or dividends from Woodford Investment Management Limited whilst the Woodford Equity Income Fund remained suspended. In the circumstances, whilst a reluctant seller, between 3 and 8 July Mr Woodford sold 1.75million of his WPCT shares (around 60% of his holding). The sole reason that he did so was in order to meet personal financial obligations, including a tax liability.”

Whilst Mr Woodford is not considered a ‘person discharging managerial responsibilities’ within the meaning of MAR (as defined below), in consultation with its advisers, the Board has determined that this information should be made available to the public at the soonest opportunity.

Following the sale, the Board is advised by the Portfolio Manager that Mr Woodford holds 1,251,532 Ordinary Shares, representing 0.14 per cent. of the issued share capital.

This announcement contains Inside Information as defined under the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014 (“MAR”).

Company update

29 July 2019

The Board of Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc (“WPCT” or the “Company”), as stated in the announcement on 28 June 2019, has been closely monitoring the situation at Woodford Investment Management Limited (the “Portfolio Manager”) and remains focused on preserving the value of WPCT’s portfolio and protecting the interests of shareholders in WPCT.

The Board has been working with the Portfolio Manager to assess the funding requirements of its investee businesses and to reduce borrowings which, as at 25 July 2019, were £117.4 million equating to a gearing position of 15.95 per cent. of Net Asset Value.  The Board has also held preliminary discussions with select management groups that have approached the Company regarding the ongoing management of WPCT.

The Board continues to monitor and assess all options available to it. Therefore, whilst the Board remains confident in the Portfolio Manager’s commitment to WPCT and the current day-to-day management of the portfolio, the Board intends to engage with a broader range of third-party managers in order to undertake a full assessment of all potential management options, which may or may not lead to a change in the Company’s management arrangements.

The Board will update the market in due course, as appropriate.

This announcement contains Inside Information as defined under the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) No. 596/2014.

Board changes

28 June 2019

The Board of Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc (the “Company” or “WPCT”) is pleased to announce the appointment of Stephen Cohen as an independent non-executive director with immediate effect. Stephen will also become Chair of Audit, Risk and Valuation Committee.

Stephen joins the Board with extensive asset management and fund experience. He spent the bulk of his career at Mercury Asset Management where he led both investment teams and business units. He has been actively involved with open-end and closed-end funds, in multiple jurisdictions, for over 30 years. He is currently the Chair of the Audit Committee at JPMorgan Japan Investment Trust plc. Stephen has committed to dedicating an enhanced amount of time to WPCT for an initial period following his appointment.

The Board also announces that Carolan Dobson has stated her intention to step down as a non-executive director with immediate effect. Carolan joined the Board in July 2016.

The Board is actively engaged in identifying a replacement for Carolan Dobson and, in addition, is also seeking to appoint a further independent non-executive director. The Board hopes to be in a position to update on both these processes in due course.

Susan Searle, Chair, Woodford Patient Capital Trust, said: “I am pleased to welcome Stephen to the Board of WPCT. Stephen has deep asset management and investment trust experience and will be an important voice on the Board at a critical time for WPCT.

“While it is disappointing that Carolan is stepping down from the Board, we understand her decision and would like to thank Carolan for her input over the last three years.

“We have already initiated a process to identify a replacement for Carolan, and further strengthen the Board, as part of our continued succession planning. I hope to be able to update on both in the near future.”

Company update

28 June 2019

Highlights

  • Implementation of a plan to reduce gearing levels
  • Additional controls in place to preserve the value of the Portfolio
  • Reiteration of independent valuation policy
  • Search process in place for two new Board members

The Board of Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc (the “Company” or “WPCT”) today addresses a number of points raised as part of its ongoing engagement with shareholders, following the Company Update of 10 June 2019.

Susan Searle, Chair, commented: “The dialogue we have had with shareholders has been thoughtful and constructive. The main areas of discussion for shareholders are consistent with the Board’s immediate priorities, notably: gearing levels, the share price discount to net asset value, valuations, Board composition and the ongoing developments at the Portfolio Manager.

“As a result, the Board is building on some of the immediate measures taken following the gating of the Woodford Equity Income Fund on 3 June 2019 and as the situation remains fluid, will use the additional controls in place while continuing to monitor and assess the situation as it evolves, to ensure the long-term interests of shareholders are protected. We will continue to update shareholders as appropriate.”

Gearing

WPCT uses gearing to provide funding for its investee businesses through a borrowing facility for up to £150 million (the “Facility”). As at close of business on 26 June 2019, approximately £126.0 million was drawn under the Facility, which equates to gearing of 16.8 per cent. of Net Asset Value (“NAV”). The Company is permitted, under its investment policy, to borrow up to 20 per cent. of NAV, measured at the time of borrowing.

Following discussions with shareholders, the Board intends to reduce gearing over time. While the priority for the Board is to ensure that funding is available for portfolio companies, it has agreed a schedule with Woodford Investment Management Ltd (the “Portfolio Manager”) to reduce the level of gearing to below 10 per cent. within six months and to be generally operating ungeared within 12 months. The intention thereafter is for gearing to be utilised at lower levels primarily for capital flexibility (including investments) with the intention for any such gearing to be reduced by realisations shortly thereafter. Any draw down on the facility where the gearing exceeds 10 per cent. will require Board approval.

Furthermore, the largest assets in the Company’s portfolio are reaching a stage of maturity, with many having developed a diversified investor base. While the Company will be required over time to provide funding to some of its portfolio companies, it intends to achieve this, where possible, by using a proportion of the net proceeds received through disposals and realisations in the Company’s portfolio, a number of which are anticipated over the next 12-18 months.

Share price discount to NAV

The Board notes the discount to NAV at which the shares trade has widened from 14.1 per cent. as at close of business on 31 May 2019 (the business day prior to the gating of LF Woodford Equity Income Fund (“WEIF”)) to 33.4 per cent. as at close of business on 26 June 2019.

Once the gearing is at a reduced level, if the Company’s shares continue to trade at a sustained and material discount to NAV, the Company intends to undertake share repurchases in order to seek to mitigate the discount to NAV. Any share repurchase will be subject to the working capital requirements of the Company, the Company having sufficient distributable reserves at that time and the amount of cash available to fund such purchases. The Board will also balance the need to use available capital for supporting investee businesses and its commitment to share buybacks.

Valuation

There has been recent commentary around the valuation of WPCT’s unquoted assets, following events relating to WEIF.

The Board wishes to reiterate to investors that there is an independent valuation process relating to the valuation of the unquoted assets that comprise WPCT’s portfolio, which in turn informs the Company’s NAV.

The pricing of unquoted securities, in line with Financial Conduct Authority regulations, is solely the responsibility of the appointed Alternative Investment Fund Manager, Link Fund Solutions Limited (“Link”). Link provides independent oversight of pricing and conducts its own Fair Value Pricing Committee (“FVPC”) with the support of an independent valuation firm it employs (“IHSMarkit”).

Link’s Fair Value Pricing Policy provides an objective, consistent and transparent basis for evaluating the fair value of unquoted equity securities in accordance with Financial Reporting Standard 102 as well as International Private Equity and Venture Capital Valuation Guidelines (“IPEV Guidelines”).

An in-depth valuation of each investment is performed independently by IHSMarkit using information publicly available, in addition to that supplied by the Company’s investee companies. A valuation occurs: (i) at the time of initial investment; (ii) with a semi-annual frequency thereafter; and (iii) as required where a ‘triggering event’ has occurred (where a ‘triggering event’ is an event that may materially impact the value of an investee business).

The independent valuation by IHSMarkit, as adopted by Link, is reviewed by Grant Thornton UK LLP (“GT”) as part of the half-year review and annual audit process which includes using their own valuation experts as required. This provides an additional measure to test the validity of the portfolio valuation.

The Board is also aware that there has been commentary around the price at which WEIF may dispose of certain assets also held by WPCT. While this would be considered in the valuation process the context of the transaction is also considered.

IPEV Guidelines state that: “The objective of measuring Fair Value is to estimate the price at which an Orderly Transaction would take place between Market Participants at the Measurement Date. Fair Value is the hypothetical exchange price taking into account current market conditions for buying and selling assets. Fair Value is not the amount that an entity would receive or pay in a Forced Transaction…”

The Link FVPC and IHSMarkit would need to determine whether any sale by WEIF is considered a ‘forced’ or an ‘orderly’ transaction. In the case of a ‘forced transaction’, it is not necessarily expected that the Company’s assets would be marked to the same value. In the case of an ‘orderly transaction’, the sale by WEIF may present a new valuation metric for the asset. This may result in a fall or increase in value depending on the sale price.

The valuation of the Company’s portfolio is inherently subject to a degree of volatility given the early-stage nature of the Company’s investments and will vary over time reflecting many factors taken into account by the independent valuer. The Board believes it is equally important to consider the operational progress of the underlying businesses as value will ultimately be delivered through the commercialisation of the investee businesses and in that regard, the Company continues to be confident in the long-term potential within the portfolio.

Board

The Board’s primary focus is to preserve the value of the assets in the portfolio and to protect the interests of shareholders in the Company. Therefore, since 3 June 2019 and the gating of WEIF, the Board has introduced additional controls within WPCT to ensure that any of the following are brought to the Board in advance of such transaction:

  • any proposed sale of an asset that is also held by WEIF or any other mandate managed by the Portfolio Manager;
  • any proposed investment into new assets, although it is worth noting that no new investments are anticipated at present; and
  • any proposed further investment in existing assets.

The Board is independent of the Portfolio Manager and there are robust processes in place to avoid any conflicts of interest. It has a blend of experience including investing in and working with early-stage companies.

In a separate release today, we have announced the appointment of Stephen Cohen to the Board as an independent non-executive director. Stephen has committed to dedicating an enhanced amount of time to WPCT for an initial period following his appointment. We are also actively engaged to identify a replacement for Carolan Dobson, who has stepped down from the Board today.

The Board is also seeking a further independent non-executive director, in-line with its existing objective to evolve the Board. Once the current recruitment process is complete, an evaluation will be made at that time to determine whether any further changes are appropriate.

Portfolio Manager

At present, the Board is closely monitoring the situation and continues to have regular dialogue with the Portfolio Manager. It is using the additional controls in place to ensure appropriate oversight and visibility of the assets within the portfolio and is committed to a reduction in the Company’s gearing over time. As ever, the Board remains focused on protecting the value of the portfolio and shareholder interests.

Company update

10 June 2019

The Board of Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc (the “Company”) notes the recent developments at Woodford Investment Management Ltd (the “Portfolio Manager”).

Following the events relating to LF Woodford Equity Income Fund (“WEIF”), the Board also notes the reaction in the Company’s share price and the share prices of certain quoted portfolio companies in which WEIF is also invested.

The Board is pleased with the operational progress of its portfolio companies, which the Board believes continue to have the potential to deliver attractive returns, in line with the long-term mandate of the Company. The operational performance of these businesses is not impacted by recent events.

Susan Searle, Chair, commented: “The Board is closely monitoring the situation and is engaging with its shareholders and advisers. Separately, the Board is in regular dialogue with the portfolio manager. The Board wishes to emphasise the long-term approach of the Company and will continue to keep shareholders updated as necessary.”

What are the risks?

  • Long-term outcomes are more binary – extremely attractive rewards for success but some businesses will inevitably fail to fulfil their potential and this may expose investors to the risk of capital losses
  • As it can take years for young businesses to fulfil their potential, this investment requires patience
  • The value of the trust as well as any income it pays will fluctuate which may partly be the result of exchange rate changes
  • The price of shares in the trust is determined by market supply and demand, and this may be different to the net asset value of the trust. This means the price may be volatile in response to changes in demand
  • The trust may invest in overseas securities and be exposed to currencies other than pound sterling – as a result, exchange rate movements may cause the sterling value of investments to decrease or increase
  • The trust may invest in unquoted securities, which may be less liquid and more difficult to value, because they are generally not publicly traded – the lack of an open market may also make it more difficult to establish fair value
  • Young businesses have a different risk profile to mature blue-chip companies – risks are much more stock-specific, which implies a lower correlation with equity markets and the wider economy

Important information

We do not give investment advice so you need to decide if an investment is suitable for you. If you are unsure whether to invest, you should contact a financial adviser. The trust currently intends to conduct its affairs so that its securities can be recommended by IFAs to ordinary retail investors in accordance with the FCA’s rules in relation to non-mainstream investment products and intends to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The securities are excluded from the FCA’s restrictions which apply to non-mainstream investment products because they are shares in an investment trust.

Woodford Investment Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (firm reference number 745433). Incorporated in England and Wales, company number 10118169. Registered address 9400 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2HN.

Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc is incorporated in England and Wales, company number 09405653. Registered as an investment company under section 833 of the Companies Act 2006. Registered address Beaufort House, 51 New North Road, Exeter, EX4 4EP.

© 2019 Woodford Investment Management Ltd.
All rights reserved.

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