The Merlin team has abandoned two thirds of its position in the CF Woodford Equity Income Fund, or roughly £300m, a source with knowledge of the changes has confirmed, dealing yet another blow to the beleaguered fund manager this year.
The John Chatfeild-Roberts-led multi-manager team was one of the big early backers of Woodford’s mega equity income vehicle, joining the initial rush to invest in the fund before it launched in June 2014.
As at 30 June 2017, the CF Woodford Equity Income was still one of the major UK equities holdings of the £3bn Merlin Income Portfolio, as well as the £1.9bn Merlin Growth and £1.7bn Merlin Balanced strategies.
The fund's total assets under management currently stand at £8.9bn, following the Merlin team's divestment.
The former Invesco Perpetual manager himself has apologised for the “incredibly painful performance” of his debut equity income fund, which has produced a negative return of -0.3% over the last 12 months against the IA UK Equity Income sector’s 10.3%, according to data from FE.
The same source also told Portfolio Adviser that several new funds would be added to the Merlin range, including Richard Pease's Crux European Special Situations fund and the Schroders European Alpha fund managed by James Sum.
Ben Whitmore's Jupiter Global Value is also rumoured to be joining the roster.
Jupiter declined to comment on the changes made to the Merlin range.