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Aberdeen's Duce replaces £80m Woodford mandate with Carl Stick

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Aberdeen's Duce replaces £80m Woodford mandate with Carl Stick

Aberdeen’s Graham Duce has sold out of an £80 million stake in Neil Woodford’s Invesco UK equity income fund on concern it will lose some defensive characteristics under Mark Barnett.

Duce (pictured), who is co-head of multi-manager at Aberdeen, sold out of the position last month ahead of Woodford’s departure at the end of April.

The holding is understood to form part of a fund of funds run on behalf of Coutts.

The proceeds have been recycle into the Rathbone Income fund, run by Citywire AA-rated manager Carl Stick.

‘He [Woodford] did a specific job for us – he had low beta. It was very much a defensive position,’ Duce said.

While Duce rates Barnett highly, he is mindful the fund may no longer offer the defensive characteristics that he requires.

'Mark Barnett is a talent in his own right, I just think the world has changed for him. He has 50 people reporting to him,' Duce said.

‘In the way he runs his portfolio I understand he won’t have as high positions and convictions as Woodford. I think we might have a more diluted Woodford portfolio.’

Stick has strongly outperformed in recent years, rallying after a tricky spell in 2008.

The manager took on £656.5 million Rathbone Income in 2000, and to the end of January it was top quartile over five years, and second quartile in one and three.

In the three years to the end of January, the fund has returned 42.6%, compared with an average return of 36.2% in the peer group.

'One of the reasons we went into Carl Stick is that he has learnt some lessons from 2008 in the way he has managed position size and risk in his portfolio, and is obsessive about the strength of balance sheets. He is always thinking about the downside,' Duce said.

'The key attraction is his stockpicking ability,' he added, highlight the Rathbone Income's characteristics 'seem closer to Neil Woodford than other funds in that space'.

'Even though he [Stick] has run above average cash levels, he has generated some very good and consistent alpha from stock selection,' Duce said.

Duce is also considering the possibility of adding Rathbone Income fund to his retail portfolios.

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