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Neil Woodford: 'I'm right to be criticised. And I'm very sorry'

Britain's best-known fund manager has apologised to investors after losing hundreds of millions of pounds on the back of a series of disastrous stock-picks. 
Following a summer of woes, Neil Woodford admitted to investors that he was "right to be criticised" in a rarely seen public apology from a fund manager. 
"It's been a difficult period. And I'm very sorry for the poor performance that we've delivered really now since 2016," he said in a video published Wednesday. 
Mr Woodford's funds were hit with a string of share price crashes in July and August, with one-day plunges coming from insurer the AA Group, doorstop lender Provident Financial and drugs giant AstraZeneca. 
Neil Woodford: 'I'm right to be criticised. And I'm very sorry'

Mr Woodford said following themes that play out in the
stock market is often like watching mist on an October morning in that they evaporate very quickly
Eager to restore faith in his stock picking abilities after a slew of bad news and a “fortnight from hell” that saw five of the biggest 12 companies in his portfolio plummet in value, he urged investors to maintain investment discipline and not "take the easy option" by copying others. 
Known for his long-term approach, Mr Woodford said getting distracted by themes that play out in the stock market was like watching "mist on an October morning" that then evaporates. He also tried to instill confidence in his strategy by comparing the funds' recent rough patch to training before a tough rugby game. 
"You'd feel really ill at the end of the session if you pushed yourself really hard," he said. "But you put the hard yards in, because you knew it was the right thing to do. It would have been easy to back off a bit. But of course, that would mean that when the season comes, the tough season, you wouldn't be fit enough." 
However, he accepted that the last two months had been particularly difficult, admitting that there can be "some fog between you and what's going on in a publicly quoted business" which can cause frustration. 
"It actually may be a surprise to our investors. But it is the fact of life that the regulatory environment that sits around public markets ensures that I can't know all the things that I would want to know," he said, using Provident Financial as an example. 
Neil Woodford: 'I'm right to be criticised. And I'm very sorry'

Peter Crook, CEO of Provident Financial. Woodford saw his 18pc holding fall ?300m in value to ?168m on the day the lender issued a second profit warning
He acknowledged that Provident Financial's problems were "even more significant than we had thought", adding that "at no stage from any of that engagement or involvement with the company did we get any sense that the problems were worse than we already knew". 
He saw his 18pc holding fall ?300m in value on the day Provident issued a second profit warning, lost its chief executive and scrapped its dividend last month. A 66pc fall in its share price wiped around ?1.7bn off its value. 
"I think the stock market, yet again, has become hysterical," he said of the reaction that day. 
His comments come two days after he invested ?4m in crowdfunding firm Seedrs. He co-founded Woodford Investment Management three years ago after leaving Invesco Perpetual, where he was head of investments. 
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