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Property stocks slump after standard life freezes U.K. fund

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Commercial-property companies slumped after Standard Life Investments suspended trading in its 2.9 billion-pound ($3.9 billion) U.K. Real Estate fund on Monday as redemptions surged in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

The fund, which invests in a mix of prime commercial real estate assets, was halted at midday and the decision will be reviewed every 28 days, the Edinburgh, Scotland-based fund manager said in a statement. Standard Life adjusted the value of the underlying assets by 5 per cent last week.

“The potential impact of a high profile liquid fund suspending redemptions shouldn’t be underestimated, particularly given the uncertain environment following the EU referendum,” said Emma Bewley, head of funds at Connection Capital in London, which oversees 170 million pounds. “Lower than expected liquidity in their real estate holdings could have broader implications for other liquid vehicles. While asset managers will seek to avoid suspending redemptions, they may have to use additional liquidity facilities.”

Investors are pulling money as industry commentators warn that London office values could fall by as much as 20 per cent within three years of the country leaving the EU. During the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, real-estate funds were forced to freeze operations after withdrawals surged, contributing to a property-market slump that saw values drop more than 40 per cent from their peak in the U.K.

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Paul

The author Paul