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Over £8bn trapped as property funds suspend dealing

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Kames and Janus Henderson have become the latest victims of coronavirus as they have suspended dealing in their property funds amid market uncertainty. Analysts say more are to follow.

A number of property funds have now suspended dealing due to the difficulty of accurately pricing holdings amid the market uncertainty off the back of coronavirus.

The £501m Kames Property Income fund and the £1.9bn Janus Henderson UK Property fund suspended dealing from midday 16 March.

This was today followed by Aviva and Aberdeen Standard Life which blocked trading for investors of the property funds.

Back in December, the £2.5bn M&G property fund was suspended due to high levels of withdrawal requests by investors at a time of Brexit uncertainty and structural shifts in the UK retail sector. The suspension has been extended three times already.

This means the total amount of money trapped in these funds tops £8bn and it was only a matter of time before more followed suit, according to Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at AJ Bell.

He said: “With pricing uncertainty in the commercial property market, it was inevitable that further funds would have to suspend. This is done to protect existing investors and stop investors who wish to sell redeeming at an artificially high price. So, while this will be hugely disconcerting for investors who are trapped in these funds, it’s important to remember the underlying reasons for asset managers making this move.

“Coronavirus is having an unprecedented impact on financial markets and we are all having to adjust to the new reality of serious economic disruption, notwithstanding the impact it is having on people’s lives. Fund suspensions are a tool in the armoury to protect investors and as the world looks for ways to tackle the virus, this is one necessary step to ensure that financial markets do not become totally disorderly. Now is a time to be patient and over time, it is expected that equities, bonds and property valuations will settle and allow a normal market to function again.”

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