Star fund manager Woodford takes stake in listed clean energy firm Leaf

Newly launched Woodford Investment Management invests in AIM-listed outfit

Star fund manger Neil Woodford is taking over at his new fund where he left off with Invesco – with a substantial stake in listed environmental investment firm Leaf Clean Energy.

The former Invesco investment chief’s newly launched Woodford Investment Management has disclosed the ownership of 7.6m Leaf shares, giving it a stake of just under 5.9% in the AIM-listed company.

During Woodford’s tenure at Invesco Perpetual, where he was UK Head of Equities and arguably the most prominent investor in the UK, its stake in Leaf hit almost 46%.

Cayman Islands-registered Leaf invests in clean energy projects – such as alternative fuels, renewable power generation and technology to reduce the environmental impact of traditional energy – principally in North America.

Earlier this year it was subject to a campaign fromactivist investment fund Crystal Amber, which resulted in the removal of directors Peter Tom and Bran Keogh.

They were replaced by Mark Lerdal and Stephen Coe. Lerdal is a partner in solar investment firm MP2 Capital and a director at Trading Emissions, the investment fund focused on tradable environmental instruments.

Invesco took 28% of Trading Emissions, when it floated in 2005 – though neither it nor Woodford are currently listed as major shareholders.

Woodford has also disclosed stakes in a range of small UK firms, such as food and pet products producer Cranswick, biotech firm Vernalis and Internet and telecoms provider Daisy Group.

It comes as Woodford, the firm, has announced the launch of its first fund, the CF Woodford Equity Income Fund, on June 2. It will focus on valuation and identifying companies that can deliver “sustainable dividend growth”.