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AJ Bell shares fall after Neil Woodford's former employer Invesco cuts stake

AJ Bell’s shares have performed strongly since it listed on the London Stock Exchange in December 2018.
Invesco intends to remain a “significant, long term shareholder” of AJ Bell

AJ Bell PLC (LON:AJB) shares dropped on Friday after a long-standing investor sold a 9.3% stake in the investment platform for £144.4mln.

Invesco Asset Management Ltd, where under-fire fund manager Neil Woodford rose to fame, has sold 38mln shares in AJ Bell for 380p each, cutting its stake to 16.1%.

READ: AJ Bell shares soar on first day trading after investment platform provider IPOs at 160p a share

The shares were sold through an accelerated bookbuild. Numis acted as sole bookrunner in the placing.

In late morning trading, shares in AJ Bell fell 4.7% to 381p.

AJ Bell’s shares have performed strongly since it listed on the London Stock Exchange in December 2018.

The shares ended the first day of trading at 220p, above the offer price of 160p.

At the time of the placing, Invesco had entered into a 180-day lock-in with Numis, meaning it could not sell its shares during that period.

Numis agreed to waive the lock-in after consenting to the share placing.

Invesco said that it intends to remain a “significant, long term shareholder” of AJ Bell. 

Woodford sells stake in AJ Bell to Invesco before IPO 

Famed stock picker Neil Woodford sold his 8% stake in AJ Bell to his former employers at Invesco for £40mln shortly before the firm announced its intention to float in November.

Woodford had first bought a stake in AJ Bell back in 2007 when he was at Invesco.

He had built a steller reputation for delivering good returns to investors during his 26 years at Invesco and took many of his clients with him when he set up Oxford-based Woodford Investment Management in 2014. 

However, Woodford has come under attack this week for suspending trading of his flagship Woodford Equity Income Fund after a flood of investors withdrew money. 

Investors are still having to pay fees of up to 1.7% while the fund is suspended, a move that has been slammed by Treasury Committee chair Nicky Morgan. 

Woodford argued that the decision to suspend trading of the fund for at least 28 days was necessary to protect investors by allowing the company time to "reposition the element of the fund's portfolio invested in unquoted and less liquid stocks, into more liquid investments".

Investors had withdrawn about £560mln of their money over the past four weeks, contributing to a £600mln slump in the value of the fund last month.

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