Star fund manager Neil Woodford says £120m punt on US biotech firm could still come good despite estimated £32m loss 

Star fund manager Neil Woodford says £120m punt on US biotech firm could still come good despite estimated £32m loss 

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Biding his time: Neil Woodford has suggested his punt on US biotech firm Northwest Biotherapeutics could still come good

Biding his time: Neil Woodford has suggested his punt on US biotech firm Northwest Biotherapeutics could still come good

Star fund manager Neil Woodford has launched a defence of his punt on a US biotech firm that is estimated to have lost his investors £38million.

In a letter to investors in his £8billion Equity Income Fund and Patient Capital Trust, Woodford said it was too soon to say whether the £120million bet on Northwest Biotherapeutics had gone badly.

The firm is accused of financial irregularities and Woodford has appointed a former FBI agent to its board.

Woodford said: ‘With some early-stage investments not everything will go well. It is too early to pass judgment on Northwest, but we have hit a bump in the road that needs to be addressed.’

He continued: ‘We have often talked about how as active fund managers, we engage with boards to represent the interests of our shareholders. The situation with Northwest is such an example.’

Northwest specialises in a new type of cancer treatment that encourages the body’s immune system to fight the disease. 

Woodford said that he was attracted to the technology the firm was using and the early clinical data.

He has gained a reputation for being an extremely active shareholder in the companies he invests in.

In 2012 he famously spoke out against a proposed takeover of Airbus Group by BAE Systems, and is said to have been instrumental in the removal of the boss of drugs firm AstraZeneca.

Woodford said he remains confident in his approach to investing in early-stage businesses and told investors he would keep them up to date with any developments.

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