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Guernsey lifts suspension on two of Neil Woodford's unquoted stocks

Guernsey lifts suspension on two of Neil Woodford's unquoted stocks

Guernsey's International Stock Exchange has lifted the suspension to dealings imposed on two of Neil Woodford's unquoted stocks, Benevolent AI and Ombu, but kept the restriction in place on a third, Industrial Heat.

Dealings were suspended earlier this month on all three of Woodford's stakes in the companies, which he had listed on the Channel Islands stock market as a means of remaining within the City regulator's rules on the amount of unquoted company stocks a fund can hold.

The suspension to dealings in the Woodford Equity Income fund's holding in Benevolent AI, Woodford's largest unquoted stake at 4.4% of his £4.4 billion flagship fund, was lifted at 6pm tonight.

A smaller listing of shares in early stage investor Ombu, held largely by Woodford and his previous employer Invesco, also had its dealing suspension lifted at the same time.

But dealings in Woodford's controversial stake in cold fusion specialist Industrial Heat, representing 2.5% of the Equity Income fund, remain suspended.

Mark Nicol, managing director of the International Stock Exchange Authority, said the suspension remained in place 'pending the outcome of further discussions with the issuer and its sponsor'.

The suspensions to dealing in the three stocks had threatened to derail Woodford's attempt to keep his Equity Income fund's exposure to unquoted stocks below the Financial Conduct Authority's 10% limit by listing stakes in private companies in Guernsey.

Had Guernsey's stock exchange authority ultimately cancelled the listings, the fund's unquoted exposure would have risen above 13% based on current weightings.

The lifting to the suspension of dealings in Benevolent AI represents the biggest reprieve. That 4.4% Equity Income fund stake's classification as a listed holding for regulatory purposes is now seemingly safe.

Together with the lifting of the Ombu dealing suspension, it means the fund won't trouble the 10% limit for now, whatever Guernsey's verdict on Industrial Heat.

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