- Woodford Patient Capital Trust said it would reduce its debt levels following consultations with its shareholders.

A schedule had been agreed with manager Woodford Investment Management to cut gearing to below 10%, down from an existing level of 16.8%, within six months and then be completely debt free within 12 months.

The decision came in the wake of the gating of the Woodford Equity Income Fund earlier in June.

'The intention thereafter is for gearing to be utilised at lower levels primarily for capital flexibility, including investments, with the intention for any such gearing to be reduced by realisations shortly thereafter,' chairman Susan Searle said.

'Any draw down on the facility where the gearing exceeds 10% will require board approval.'

Searle said the company may undertake share repurchases if there is still a big discount between its share price and its net asset value once debt had been reduced.

'Any share repurchase will be subject to the working capital requirements of the company, the company having sufficient distributable reserves at that time and the amount of cash available to fund such purchases,' she said.

'The board will also balance the need to use available capital for supporting investee businesses and its commitment to share buybacks.'

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