Property slump prompts Rensburg to sell assets

Rensburg Sheppards' Charities Property Fund is arranging to sell approximately 10 per cent of its assets because of concerns over falling property values.

Details of the sales come after the announcement that the fund is to defer redemptions by up to 12 months because of "problems in the commercial property markets" (Third Sector Online, 20 December).

According to market estimates, the average price of property shares has fallen by more than 40 per cent in the past year. As a result, about 96 of the fund's 961 investors had given redemption notices.

Rensburg Sheppards, which has already sold two of its 44 properties, will now sell up to five more in what is being described as a "disposal programme". The fund will keep its existing bias towards industrial properties as a means of maintaining the fund's yield.

Charles Mesquita, a charity specialist at Rensburg Sheppards, said: "No one likes to see capital values moving backwards, but in a couple of years we will actually look back on this market correction as a positive thing."

One charity investment expert, who did not want to be named, said that investors would need to plan for having assets tied up as a result of the deferral.

"Investors need to think through what it actually means for them - such as not being able to alter their asset allocations," the expert said.

Charity fund manager Cazenove also runs a property fund, the Multi-Strategy Property Trust, which has assets worth £40m. Jeff Hayes, head of institutional and charity clients at Cazenove, said that the fund had not received any redemption requests.

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