M&G announces temporary suspension of dealing in property portfolio

07 Décembre, 2019, 11:39 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • The city of London is seen from the Broadway development site in central London Britain

The M&G Property Portfolio has invested in 91 United Kingdom commercial properties across shopping centres, other retail, industrial and office sectors on behalf of United Kingdom investors.

The fund covers investments in 91 United Kingdom commercial properties in the retail, industrial and office sectors, which were valued at a total of £2.54 billion at the end of October.

The FTSE 100 firm said it saw "high and sustained outflows" after the fund was hit by "Brexit-related political uncertainty and ongoing structural shifts in the United Kingdom retail sector".

The company, which only debuted on the London Stock Exchange in October after its long-awaited split from Prudential, said it has reached a point where it felt the suspension was needed to "protect the interests of the funds' customers".

The same fund was suspended in July 2016 for four months following the UK's European Union referendum when money flooded out of such funds.

The decision to suspend the fund, and its feeder fund, was taken by its official monitor - its authorised corporate director - and the City watchdog has been informed. This fund has not had problematic performance, but it is invested in an inherently illiquid asset class and therefore redemptions need to be dealt with through an orderly sale process. The firm has written to investors to explain the current situation.

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Langcat consulting director Mike Barrett said the investors involved should be thought of first, and that "for a property fund, even more than Woodford, you would hope that it is a fairly small percentage of your overall portfolio". Money manager Neil Woodford was forced to suspend withdrawals from his flagship fund in June.

While the M&G fund is suspended, most other providers have far greater liquidity, and less exposure to retail properties, and so are better placed to meet redemptions, as long as there isn't a mad rush to the exit door.

The financial adviser Chase de Vere told investors not to panic, but added: "M&G has struggled with this due to number of investors cashing out and a relatively high exposure to retail properties, which are proving hard to sell".

"Bearing in mind the fundamental mismatch between the underlying assets and liquidity offered to investors, that looks to be a mistake, particularly given the fact that this type of fund has now suspended twice in less than four years".

"Property still remains an asset class which can play an important role in investment portfolios and, when we have some real clarity on Brexit, the prospects for this asset class will hopefully improve".

The latest suspension reflects badly on the FCA, according to AJ Bell head of active portfolios Ryan Hughes. Brian Dennehy, co-founder of independent financial advisers Dennehy Weller, said: "The rush by "the smart money" [eg multi-managers, discretionary mangers, various pension funds] to sell property funds the day after the Brexit referendum wasn't a smart thing to do as it forced prices lower and triggered fund suspensions".

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