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Swip shape

Scottish Widows Investment Partnership has designed a property fund for high-net-worth investors which can invest up to 100 per cent directly in commercial property.

The fund is an authorised property unit trust established under the new collective investment scheme sourcebook published by the FSA in March. Under the old regulations, the maximum that property unit trusts could invest directly in property was 80 per cent.

The fund will invest mainly in UK office, retail and warehousing although it can invest in Europe and the US. Current tenants include BHS, Toys ‘R’ Us and John Lewis.

The fund will be managed by Swip investment director (property) Gerry Ferguson and a team of 28 property specialists. Ferguson has almost 30 years’ experience in the property market and joined Swip in 2000. He previously spent four years with RREEF, a big property fund manager in the UK.

When selecting properties for the portfolio, Ferguson and his team will combine a bottom-up assessment of properties with a top-down view of the economy. They will consider whether the properties are appropriately priced, the prospects for the sector and ways to add value to the property such as new lettings and refurbishment.

The team will then bid for suitable properties and, once bought, a business plan is drawn up which lists the various opportunities, risks and other factors to help in the continual monitoring of the properties.

The ability to invest 100 per cent directly in property is an advantage as funds which are restricted to 80 per cent may invest in property shares showing a higher correlation to equities than the property market. However, this fund’s main drawback is the minimum investment which puts it out of reach of the majority of investors.

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