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Kent County Council faces further delay in recovering £263m pension stake in Neil Woodford's Equity income fund

Kent County Council will have to wait at least another month to redeem its £263m pension investment with an equity fund - and it is likely there could be further delays.

The council is among investors in Neil Woodford’s £3.5bn Equity Income fund, which was locked after the authority tried to withdraw its stake amid concerns over its poor performance.

As a result of Kent County Council's unsuccessful attempt to redeem the money, fund manager Neil Woodford froze the fund for 28 days in a move to stabilise it and prevent further losses.

Investment manager Neil Woodford issued an apology after suspending trading in one of his funds
Investment manager Neil Woodford issued an apology after suspending trading in one of his funds

That deadline has now passed and regulators overseeing the fund have announced a further 28-day freeze blocking withdrawals.

Mr Woodford, who faced questions from county councillors on the superannuation fund committee in a private meeting a fortnight ago, sought to downplay concerns.

In a video statement posted on Monday, he said: “Of course, we understand that people want access to their money, they are very frustrated by not being able to deal in the fund. But we are using the time . . . to ensure we get the right outcomes for our investors.”

Link Asset Services, which acts as authorised corporate director to Equity Income and oversees its regulatory compliance, informed the Financial Conduct Authority on Monday that the fund was not ready to be reopened. Link will review the decision at least every 28 days until it decides the suspension can be lifted.

Charlie Simpkins
Charlie Simpkins

A statement issued by Cllr Charlie Simpkins, the chairman of KCC's superannuation fund committee after its recent meeting with Mr Woodford said: “Although the committee accepts that its investment in Woodford cannot be redeemed immediately, it would like to remind superannuation fund members and the wider public that the investment, while subject to a temporary halt in redemption, is invested in listed equities of a large number of companies and thus has an underlying value and is not lost."

Councillors also questioned Mr Woodford about the fees being charged to administer the fund while its activities are suspended.

Kent County Council HQ (13291212)
Kent County Council HQ (13291212)

There have been reports he was taking £100,000 daily in charges.

KCC issued a brief comment, saying: “We are not surprised by this announcement. We always anticipated it would take longer than 28 days to resolve the issue.”

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