The investment guru tries to make biotech trendy again in Europe
Name: Neil Woodford
Title: Patient Capital Trust
European investors have a long, long memory. So when biotech came barreling back in the U.S., it was understandable that the effervescence in the U.K. was a pale reflection of what their transatlantic counterparts were up to.
Enter Neil Woodford, stage left. Taking a page from Warren Buffett's playbook, Woodford has rolled out a public trust that plans to wager heavily on the biotech scene. That will likely be a big boon for the Golden Triangle in London-Oxford-Cambridge, where the science easily rivals the work being done in Boston and San Francisco, but where the money has often remained too hard to get.
Woodford raised $1.2 billion for Patient Capital Trust, and now plans to prove to his investors that he can get better than 10% annual gains. He'll take his rewards for anything over that mark. Of course, the biotech index in the U.S. has been doing much, much better than that recently, but Woodford's emphasis is on "patient," as in give this some time to work out.
Since leaving Invesco to go solo with his own fund, Woodford has carved a very public path for himself. He was one of AstraZeneca's ($AZN) most prominent defenders, proclaiming that the pharma giant is well on its way toward making a comeback from the bad old days that preceded Pascal Soriot's arrival. That risky position--in a company he invests in--made a significant difference for the pharma giant when Pfizer ($PFE) came calling with a widely vilified $118 billion takeover bid.
What makes him influential? He's made a lot of money for people and they trust him to do it again. He's taken up blogging and he has some very, very close relationships among some of the top finance writers in the U.K. What he says, The Telegraph--and a few other media groups--report. It's a small circle, and evidently mostly a closed one. But in the U.K. you stick to the beaten path. And if you grow large enough, you might just get to blaze one or two paths of your own. Woodford will try that now, and a lot of people are watching.
-- John Carroll (email | Twitter)
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