UK: Fund managers freeze institutional property funds.

As published on uk.reuters.com, Friday 3 April, 2020.

LONDON (Reuters) - Investment managers BlackRock (BLK.N) and Schroders (SDR.L) have suspended trading in UK real estate funds aimed at institutional investors, citing difficulty in getting an accurate price for their assets.

The suspension of the funds with quarterly or monthly redemptions, whose assets total nearly 6 billion pounds, follows the freezing last month of several funds aimed at retail investors, which allow people to get their money out daily.

Regulators have expressed concern about funds that invest in illiquid assets but allow investors to get their money out regularly.

However, the fund managers said the suspensions were not due to a flood of redemption requests.

Schroders said on its website it had suspended its 2.4 billion pound fund, which has monthly redemptions, on March 18 because “the industry standard wording for all forthcoming ... independent valuations for the Fund’s underlying properties as at 31 March 2020 will include a statement highlighting material valuation uncertainty”.

BlackRock said in an emailed statement it had suspended its 3.4 billion pound UK property fund on March 20 due to the pricing uncertainty. The fund has quarterly redemptions.

Legal & General (LGEN.L) also said in a statement it had suspended two more funds totalling more than 3.5 billion pounds in assets under management on March 20, following the freezing of its flagship UK property fund on March 18.

Royal London also froze its Royal London Property Fund, which has monthly dealings and had just over 400 million pounds in assets under management at the end of November according to Morningstar, and its Royal London Property Trust, on March 31.

“Suspensions are one of several liquidity tools available to fund managers to protect investors. Suspensions should only be used where necessary and in order to protect investors, in line with our applicable rules,” a spokesman for Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority said.

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