Following announcements made on Monday 12 September by Link Group to the Australian Securities Exchange and Dye and Durham (D&D) to the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Financial Conduct Authority is providing a short update on its involvement in the proposed takeover of the Link Group by D&D.
The proposed takeover involves the acquisition of seven firms authorised by the FCA. D&D is required to seek FCA approval to take control of these firms. One of these is Link Fund Solutions Ltd (LFS), which managed the LF Woodford Equity Income Fund (WEIF).
The FCA has investigated the circumstances leading to the suspension of the WEIF and is likely to seek to require LFS to pay a financial penalty and/or consumer redress. However, this is not a final decision – LFS can challenge any proposed action at the Regulatory Decisions Committee, the FCA’s independent decision maker in contested disciplinary cases, and then through the Upper Tribunal if LFS chooses to exercise its right to do so.
The FCA’s current view is that the redress payment LFS could be required to pay may be up to £306 million. This redress proposal reflects the FCA’s current view of LFS’s failings in managing the liquidity of the WEIF. It does not reflect any amount which may be owed to anyone else, including members of the fund, as a result of potential wrongdoing by other parties. The FCA is continuing to investigate matters relevant to the operation of the fund. FCA-determined redress is based on misconduct rather than losses caused by fluctuations in the market value or price of investments.
The FCA has therefore decided to approve D&D’s acquisition of LFS, subject to a condition to commit to make funds available to meet any shortfall within LFS in the amount available to cover any redress payments LFS may be required to make. This is the only condition the FCA has decided to impose to allow D&D to take control of the seven UK-authorised firms. The FCA has approved a change in control for the other six UK-regulated entities owned by Link Group.
Given the FCA’s enforcement case with LFS is ongoing, the FCA is not currently able to provide any further information. The FCA understands that investors will be keen to understand the impact that this may have on them, including any potential to receive redress, and will provide an update as soon as it is able to do so.
The FCA provided an update on its investigation into the circumstances relating to the suspension of the LF Woodford Equity Income Fund in a letter to the Treasury Select Committee in December 2021. This letter also contains further details on the FCA’s disciplinary process.
There are multiple parties under investigation in relation to the circumstances that led to the suspension of the LF Woodford Equity Income Fund. These investigations continue and they will consider any further failings which may have negatively impacted investors.