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M&G property fund to remain shut

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M&G has confirmed the suspension of its Property Portfolio will continue for the foreseeable future as the managers continue to sell off assets to meet client redemptions.

The fund was suspended on 4 December 2019 due to high levels of withdrawal requests by investors at a time of Brexit uncertainty and structural shifts in the UK retail sector.

In an update today, M&G said: “The Authorised Corporate Director of the M&G Property Portfolio has decided it can best protect the interests of investors in the Fund by maintaining the temporary suspension in dealing in its shares.

“Continued suspension will allow the fund’s managers to carry on raising cash to meet client redemptions in an orderly fashion, while preserving value for the Fund’s shareholders in the long term.”

Since the fund’s suspension, the managers have exchanged or completed on the sale of £70.4m of assets and a further £172.2m are either under offer or in solicitors’ hands.

Cash in the fund was just under 5% at the end of December.

Jack Daniels, chief investment officer of M&G plc, said: “Since suspending the fund, we’ve been encouraged by the support of many investors in the fund, who understand our decision to give the managers room and time to complete disposals from the portfolio at fair prices. While customers want ready access to their investments, it’s also important that their long-term interests are protected.

“Historically, we have held a low cash buffer in the conviction that our customers pay us to invest their money, not to keep it idle – particularly in times of near-zero cash interest rates. We believe that as an asset class, commercial property continues to have an important role to play in helping customers diversify their investment portfolios.”

M&G confirmed it will continue to waive 30% of its annual charge for the fund “in recognition of the inconvenience caused to investors”.

Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at AJ Bell, said: “With cash in the fund at just under 5% at the end of December and a further 7% of the fund currently under offer, the portfolio managers will want levels to be much higher before they are in a position to re-open. They will be very conscious to ensure there is a sufficient cash buffer following the re-opening, as the last thing they want is for the fund to have to suspend again if redemptions accelerate.

The M&G property fund is £2.36bn in size and was down 7.6% in 2019.

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