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Aberdeen reopens UK property fund

Aberdeen Asset Management lifted the suspension of its UK property fund yesterday in an attempt to control withdrawals following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

More than £18bn in UK commercial property funds aimed at retail investors, provided by the likes of Standard Life, Aviva, Canada Life, Threadneedle and M&G were frozen last week after investors scrambled to withdraw money from UK property in the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote last month.

The value of Aberdeen’s fund was cut by 17% last week, leaving it worth about £2.7bn, with further falls highly possible.

Martin Gilbert, Aberdeen’s chief executive, said: “Following the lifting of the week-long suspension, I am pleased that investors will now be able to trade shares in the funds.

“Investors should be aware that the price may be adjusted on a daily basis to reflect the funds’ requirement to provide liquidity and the need to protect all investors.

“The market may take time to find its level but I have no doubt that property will continue to play an important part in investors’ portfolios.”

The removal of the suspension of trading of this fund was always planned by Aberdeen, according to Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, but he warns that investors should be “very wary of dealing under these conditions”.

He commented: “Those selling the fund are probably already expecting the worst, so it’s buyers who stand to be most disappointed if the price suddenly jumps up.

“Investors are now playing lucky dip with the Aberdeen UK property fund, as the price could move sharply up or down, depending on daily flows.

“Anyone who believes they are picking up a bargain could therefore be in for a nasty surprise if a lot of other investors are thinking the same way. This risk does exists in more normal trading within open-ended property funds, but the high levels of the dilution levy imposed make it a particularly high stakes game at the moment.” 

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