JEFF PRESTRIDGE: The only way this country is going to get back on its feet is through the wheels of commerce clicking into overdrive
It was fantastic to do a Boris Johnson last week and run through St James’s Park in London. Mind you, unlike Boris, I had no dog in tow to jump up at strangers, or a bodyguard following my every step. Just me and my shadow.
What thrilled and concerned me – in equal parts – as I ran in view of the splendid Buckingham Palace was how busy the Royal Park was. Heaving is the word that springs to mind – and it wasn’t just lunchtime workers enjoying the spring sunshine.
It was people of all ages determined to party and clock the near-ending of lockdown.
No time for relaxing: The only way this country is going to get back on its feet is through the wheels of commerce clicking back into overdrive
On the one hand, it was great to see the country emerging from its lockdown chrysalis. About time too. On the other, it raised three concerns in my mind. First, a niggling worry that coronavirus – vaccinations notwithstanding – could well thrive in such an environment as social distancing rules are routinely disobeyed.
Secondly, it seems lockdown has spawned a new breed of litter lout who has long forgotten that rubbish should be put in bins, not left for some park official to clear up. I’d fine them if I had my way – with the proceeds going to the NHS.
Finally, and most importantly, why aren’t many of these party animals now back at work?
The only way this country is going to get back on its feet is through the wheels of commerce clicking back into overdrive.
The sooner this happens, the better for our economic and financial wellbeing. Everyone, including Boris and those partygoers in St James’s Park, should now be doing their bit to put the great back into Great Britain.
Otherwise, we are going to end up with an anaemic economy and a debt overhang that will be with us for decades. Internationally, we will be a minnow. All hands to the pumps I say.
Authorised corporate director Link is up to its proverbial neck in mud resulting from its failure to do the job it was handsomely paid to do at investment fund Woodford Equity Income.
Twenty-two months after it suspended dealings in the £3.8billion Woodford fund because of liquidity issues – and 18 months after it ordered the fund’s breakup – Link is being pursued by several firms looking to recover losses incurred by investors.
They claim Link failed to do the job it was paid to do – safeguard the financial interests of investors – by allowing the fund’s manager Neil Woodford to go seriously off-piste. By the time the fund was suspended, it resembled more a risky venture capital fund than a solid UK equity income vehicle investing in some of the country’s most dividend-friendly companies.
Link is also at the centre of a probe by the Financial Conduct Authority launched in the wake of the fund’s suspension – although this investigation is moving at tortoise pace with no end date in sight (shameful).
Yet, with every passing week, the mud gets deeper.
Scrutiny: Link is being pursued for losses from Neil Woodford’s fund
Last week, in an update to investors about its disposal of the fund’s remaining assets, Link threw a curve ball by announcing it had made a further investment in one of the companies it had yet to dispose of – Mafic, a global manufacturer of basalt fibre.
An extraordinary decision. As one Equity Income investor told me: ‘Link is not a fund manager. It has no competence to be making such investment decisions.
‘It should be focused purely on selling the rump of remaining assets [£164million] and returning the proceeds to Equity Income investors.’
Absolutely. A switched-on regulator should be all over Link. Sadly, the tortoise shows no inclination to even come out of its shell.