Standard Life shuts £2.9bn property fund after investors rush to withdraw money post-Brexit

Commercial building work immediately slowed following the shock decision for the UK to leave the EU

Hazel Sheffield
Tuesday 05 July 2016 11:40
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The cooling of the construction industry has fuelled concerns that property prices and rental values could start to fall
The cooling of the construction industry has fuelled concerns that property prices and rental values could start to fall

Standard Life has shut a property fund worth £2.9 billion after a rush to withdraw money following the EU referendum as fears for the UK property market grow.

In a note to investors, Standard Life blamed "exceptional market circumstances" for the decision to suspend trading in its UK property fund for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis.

The fund invests in a mixture of commerical real estate in the UK, including office blocks, shopping centres and warehouses.

Trading stopped at midday on Monday and will be suspended until it is "praciticable" to lift the ban, it said, with a review every 28 days.

The decision signals that funds are having to take extra measures to stop a run on money in UK property funds as investors nerves grow about the future of the UK commercial property market.

The cooling of the construction industry has fuelled concerns that property prices and rental values could start to fall, leading investors to believe their that their money might be safer elsewhere.

Data has shown that investors had decided to put their money in bonds in the run up to the EU referendum.

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Standard Life and other funds including M&G and Henderson had already changed their pricing so that investors cashing in holdings would get a less lucrative deal, to discourage people from withdrawing their cash.

David Buik, market commentator at Panmure Gordon, said that Standard Life would need to sell its holdings, or the contents of its investment portfolio.

"It has transpired that Standard Life had been forced to prevent retail investors from selling funds in property funds due to a threat of falling property prices triggered by the decision to leave the EU. The £2.9 billion Fund will need to sell holdings to raise funds," Buik said.

Commercial building work immediately slowed following the shock decision for the UK to leave the EU on June 23.

Construction output in June fell at its fastest pace since the financial crisis in 2009, Markit data showed.

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