M&G and Aviva become the latest property funds to suspend trading

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Two more property funds have suspended trading Tuesday as investors pull their money out of UK commercial property.

M&G announced Tuesday afternoon that it was temporarily suspending trading in the shares of the M&G Property Portfolio.

And earlier Tuesday Aviva suspended trading in its property fund, just after the Bank of England said this morning that it was monitoring investors in open-ended commercial property funds, citing them as a risk to the UK's financial stability.

The central bank's Financial Stability Report highlighted that foreign investment in UK commercial real estate dropped by 50 per cent in the first quarter of 2016.

Read more: Commercial real estate share prices hit as future of the City looks uncertain

A statement from M&G, meanwhile, explained that the sharp rise in the number of investor redemptions, thanks to the uncertainty sparked by the unexpected Brexit vote last month, had lead it to believe that a temporary suspension was the best move to protect the interests of the funds' shareholders.

M&G also said that it will review the suspension decision every 28 days, while any orders placed after midday today will not be processed until after the suspension is lifted.

An Aviva Investors spokesperson said: "The extraordinary market circumstances, which are impacting the wider industry, have resulted in a lack of immediate liquidity in the Aviva Investors Property Trust.

"Consequently, we have acted to safeguard the interests of all our investors by suspending dealing in the fund with immediate effect. Suspension of dealing will give Aviva Investors greater control in managing cashflows and conducting orderly asset sales in order to meet our obligations to investors wishing to redeem their holdings."

Trading was suspended in Standard Life Investment's UK real estate fund yesterday after increased outflows dried up the fund's cash reserves.

Read more: Retail property boss warns against panic selling in commercial property

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The dominos are starting to fall in the UK commercial property market, as yet another fund locks its doors on the back of outflows precipitated by the Brexit vote.

"It's probably only a matter of time before we see other funds follow suit.

"The problems these funds face is that it takes time to sell commercial property to meet withdrawals, and the cash buffers built up by managers have been eroded by investors heading for the door, both in the run up to the EU referendum, and in the aftermath.

Read more: Housebuilders suffer second day of share price falls in a row

"These managers will now be adding to the supply of commercial properties on the market, which is likely to put downward pressure on prices. Foreign investors might be tempted in by the fall of sterling, but equally they may decide to steer well clear of an economy in limbo."

Full story: M&G and Aviva become the latest property funds to suspend trading: City A.M.

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