June 16, 2020 / 11:35 AM / 24 days ago

M&G keeps UK $3.2 bln property fund frozen after six-month suspension

LONDON, June 16 (Reuters) - Insurer and asset manager M&G is keeping its $3.2 billion UK Property Portfolio suspended following a six-month freeze, as it could not assess the value of its real estate assets accurately due to the coronavirus crisis, it said on Tuesday.

The British company in December stopped investors from getting their money out of the fund - normally possible daily - saying uncertainty over Brexit and weakness in Britain’s retail commercial property sector had prompted redemption requests.

But most other UK property funds also halted redemptions in March, as valuers said there was “material uncertainty” about property values at the end of the first quarter due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

M&G said its valuers were still applying a material uncertainty clause, other than to the stronger-performing industrials and logistics sectors, due to the lack of transactions.

The fund has 181 million pounds ($228.86 million) in real estate assets under offer or for sale and the sale of all of the asset would bring cash levels up to 16.1%, M&G said in a statement.

“Reopening the fund for dealing will depend on cash levels but will also be contingent on the material uncertainty clause being lifted,” it said.

British property funds are expected to remain frozen for months due to the valuation difficulties, and some may need to change structure to survive, industry sources say.

$1 = 0.7909 pounds Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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