Major property fund to unlock investors’ money

A major £2bn UK commercial property fund that has been suspended since December 2019 – locking in investors’ money – will resume trading next month.

Investment firm M&G said investors would be able to access its property portfolio fund again from 10 May.

The fund had been hit by the effects of Brexit uncertainty and troubles in the retail sector, and was suspended after investors consistently took money out.

M&G apologised for the “inconvenience” the suspension caused.

“The decision to suspend was taken to protect the interests of all of our investors, enabling the fund manager to sell assets in an orderly fashion,” said Laurence Mumford, who chairs the fund’s authorised corporate director, M&G Securities Limited.

“We believe this has preserved value for customers, while also maintaining the integrity and future prospects of the fund.”

Asset sale
The M&G Property Portfolio had invested in 91 UK commercial properties, including shopping centres and other retail, industrial and office buildings, on behalf of UK investors.

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

During the latest suspension, 38 properties have been sold or exchanged for nearly £1bn, the fund’s managers said.

This created a secure enough position for investors to withdraw their investments, should they wish to, or remain invested in the fund, M&G said

Some management charges are being reduced until the end of the year.

Ryan Hughes, from investment platform AJ Bell, said investors had been “left in limbo”.

“News that the M&G Property fund will finally resume dealing after nearly 18 months suspended will no doubt be welcomed by the many investors who have been unable to access their money for such a long period,” he said.

“While this reopening is welcome, we shouldn’t forget that the outcome of the Financial Conduct Authority’s consultation into the appropriateness of property in an open ended structure is still outstanding.”