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Widows lifts restrictions on its property funds

Scottish Widows is to remove the six-month notice periods on its life and pension property funds from August 18.

The restrictions were placed on the £1.1bn pension fund and £888m life fund in January. Widows was one of the firms that brought in notice periods after a downturn saw investors rush to withdraw cash after years of strong returns.

Last month, Friends Provident temporarily lifted the notice period on its property fund although it reserves the right to reinstate it if necessary.

Friends said it had increased cash levels sufficiently to clear the queue for withdrawals, having imposed a six-month notice period last December.

Aegon Asset Management says it is reviewing its options after raising liquidity levels on its property fund. It introduced a deferment period of up to 12 months in January.

Informed Choice director Martin Bamford says: “We are still allocating for new investment in property as it is a good long-term story. Capital falls have been balanced by growth in rental income so far this year.”

Hargreaves Lansdown senior analyst Meera Patel says: “Despite restrictions beginning to lift, there is still no confidence in commercial property in the UK. We still think that property has further to fall in the UK as the major signal for the sector is unemployment which has not really begun yet. All we have seen is redemptions slow as hot money is pulled out of these funds.”

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