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British commercial property exchange eyes first five listings this year

LONDON, Sept 3 (Reuters) - British commercial property exchange IPSX is hoping to list its first five initial public offerings this year, its managing director said on Thursday, giving real estate investors an alternative way to buy into the sector.

The exchange, which describes itself as the world’s first regulated exchange for commercial property stocks, will list the Mailbox office and retail complex in Birmingham, central England in its debut IPO, Roger Clarke told Reuters.

The building will be listed as a real estate investment trust (REIT) with a market capitalisation of 115 million pounds ($153 million). The current owner of the property, M7 Real Estate, will retain a 45% stake. Clarke did not give an exact timetable.

Several REITs are already trading on the London Stock Exchange, as well as in other countries like the United States, but these companies -- which enjoy certain tax advantages -- typically hold a broad portfolio of bricks and mortar assets.

IPSX, in contrast, will list REITs comprising shares either in a single building or in “portfolios where there is a degree of commonality”, Clarke said. The portfolios could consist of several buildings with the same function owned by one firm.

The REIT structure is more liquid than open-ended property funds, which have come under scrutiny in Britain after most froze in March as a result of market uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

The Financial Conduct Authority last month proposed that investors in property funds should wait up to six months before they can get their money back, to avoid a stampede for the exit leading to widespread suspensions in rocky markets.

IPSX, which received regulatory approval last year, is also aiming this year to list office buildings in Leeds and Manchester, in northern England, and portfolios of social housing and serviced offices in Britain, Clarke said.

COVID-19 delayed IPSX’s listing plans from earlier this year, he added. ($1 = 0.7531 pounds) (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)