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Friends unlocks property fund

Providers are cautious about re-opening their property funds to redemptions despite lower volatility in the sector.

Friends Provident said last week that it has temporarily lifted the notice period on its property fund although it reserves the right to reinstate it if necessary.

The company says it has increased cash levels sufficiently to clear the queue for withdrawals, having imposed a six-month notice period last December.

Aegon Asset Management also released an update last week, saying it is reviewing its options after raising liquidity levels on its property fund. The group introduced a deferment period of up to 12 months in January.

Aegon PR Mark Locke says: “We must at all times be mindful of the best interests of all our customers who have investments in our property fund, not just those who wish to switch or encash their investments. It would not be prudent to rush into any decisions without giving due care and consideration to all options available to us.”

Norwich Union and New Star retain a bid status, as opposed to bid-offer, on their funds.

A New Star spokesman says: “We have seen volatility drop markedly from earlier this year but we are still waiting for things to settle. We would like to see regular, solid inflows as opposed to at present where we are seeing inflows interrupted by the odd day of outflows.”

The Norwich property trust has fallen to 2.5bn from 4.4bn last summer. NU says redemptions are now 5 per cent of what they were in late 2007 and early 2008.

An NU spokesman says: “We moved back to monthly valuations in May. Cash levels are now at 6 to 7 per cent and if sales continue, that could be up to as much as 20 per cent by the end of the year.”

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