In quick succession, three funds have called a halt to an outpour of capital, joining three others. The UK’s long-booming real estate market has become a leading source of worry for its financial system post-Brexit.
Investors have scrambled to pull their money out of UK property funds as commercial property prices are expected to take a hit in the uncertain aftermath of the country’s vote to leave the European Union.
Citing “exceptional liquidity pressures,” Henderson Global Investors announced Wednesday it was going to suspend trading in its 5 billion euro ($5.5 billion) UK property fund. Columbia Threadneedle and Canada Life then followed suit less than a couple hours afterwards.
In so doing, they join three competing funds – M&G, Standard Life Investments and Aviva – that suspended their trading earlier in the week.
Commercial real estate is emerging as a dangerous weak spot for the British economy as the consequences of the Brexit vote become clear almost two weeks after the result was announced.
The announcement led many investors to complain to Britain’s Financial Ombudsman Service, which expected such suspensions but finds the extent of developments “quite troubling.”
Fueled largely by demand in London, Britain’s commercial real estate market enjoyed years of strong business before before being blindsided by Brexit. On Monday, the Bank of England pointed to the market, “overstretched” by large amounts of overseas capital, as a risk to the country’s financial stability.
jtm/uhe (AFP, Reuters)