Pleasant Faces

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Neil Woodford is setting up his new office in a grand Buckinghamshire mansion where King George II once lived.

While investors who entrusted the disgraced stock-picker with their savings have lost more than £1billion, the once-feted fund manager will be rebuilding his career from Grade I-listed Marlow Place, described as the town’s ‘most flamboyant house’ by the local preservation society.

With its bright white cornicing and wood-panelled rooms, it is in stark contrast to the dull Oxford business estate from which Woodford ran his former investment empire.

According to commercial property consultants Exeid, which manages the building, other offices for let in the five-storey Marlow Place range from a 600sqft loft with space for eight desks and costs £4,000 per month, to a 250 sqft office for four desks costing £1,600 per month. The distillery of local spirit-maker Marlow Gin is in the mansion’s outbuildings. A spokesman for Woodford declined to comment on the office, or how much space was being rented.

The site is a throwback to Woodford’s early days as an investment manager at Perpetual, now part of Invesco, which then operated from the Grade II-listed Old Rectory in Henley. Woodford built his reputation over 25 years at Invesco. But he left to set up Woodford Investment Management with his right-hand man Craig Newman in 2014. The firm collapsed in 2019, after a run of poor performance which led to the implosion of his £3.7billion Equity Income Fund.

Last weekend, he angered savers still smarting from his mistakes by announcing an audacious comeback. His new firm, WCM Partners, will be based in Jersey, though the main office will be in Marlow Place.

Rather than pulling in money from ordinary savers, it will target professional and ultra-wealthy investors as it aims to build a portfolio of biotech stocks.

Jersey’s financial regulator said this week that it was ‘disappointed’ to see Woodford unveiling his plans to base his business on the island when he hadn’t even made an application for authorisation yet.

UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority said WCM would have to seek it authorisation if it wanted to do any business in the UK, and it would consider the ‘fitness of its management’ before granting approval.

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