An update received today from Legal & General about their intentions to re-open their UK property fund:
We wrote to you on the 18 March 2020 to tell you that we had suspended dealings in our property funds. We are now pleased to say that we are intending to re-open the funds. We intend the timeline for re-opening to be:
1. From 12 October 2020, 12.00 noon – you will be able to place buy, sell or switch instructions through My Account or by calling us on 0370 050 2617;
2. On 13 October 2020 – the first trading in the funds will take place at the valuation point of 12.00 noon.
3. From 13 October 2020 – the funds will be open for dealing as normal. In line with our normal procedures, we will not be able to process online or telephone instructions submitted before 12.00 noon on 12 October.
If you send us postal instructions before the 13 October, we will hold these and trade them at the valuation point of 12.00 noon on the 13 October. After that, we will deal any postal instructions at the valuation point immediately after we receive your instructions.
We’ve provided some more information below about the funds. We recommend you speak to a financial adviser if you are unsure whether this investment remains suitable for your personal circumstances, investment goals and risk appetite.
Why did we suspend dealing in the funds? Given the global COVID-19 outbreak, on 18 March the funds’ independent valuer, Knight Frank LLP, introduced a “material uncertainty clause” to its valuations of the properties held in the funds. This meant we could not be confident about the value of the properties held in the funds and the prices we set to enable you to buy, sell or value your existing investments. Without a reliable price, we took the difficult decision to suspend dealing in the funds, taking into consideration our regulatory responsibilities and the overall best interests of investors. We wrote to all investors on 18 March to inform you of this decision.
Why are we re-opening the funds? As financial markets have begun to stabilise, the independent valuer has removed the material uncertainty clause from almost all properties. We are confident that the funds now meet the following key criteria. Providing no new material issues come to light and it remains in the best interests of investors, we can re-open the funds on 13 October:
1. Material uncertainty clauses now apply to well below 20% of the properties in the funds and the risk of going over 20% following re-opening is limited
2. We are satisfied that valuations from the independent valuer remain accurate and are supported by transactions taking place in the market
3. The funds’ available cash position remains well-placed to meet investor intentions and still has sufficient cash to manage the funds
IMPORTANT INFORMATION The value of an investment and any income taken from it is not guaranteed and can go down as well as up, you may not get back the amount you originally invested. Legal & General (Unit Trust Managers) Limited. Registered in England and Wales No 1009418. Registered office: One Coleman Street, London EC2R 5AA. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
Having considered all relevant factors, we now consider that the exceptional market circumstances that drove suspension no longer apply and that it is in the overall best interests of investors to re-open the funds. We are pleased to be in a position where we can again rely on the accuracy of property valuations from the independent valuer. These values reflect discounts arising from the impact of COVID-19. We decided to resume trading in the funds on 13 October 2020 so as to allow sufficient time to communicate the decision to all investors in the funds in writing, and particularly to allow you to consider and potentially take advice on your investments.
Cash levels Over the course of suspension, we have proactively engaged with many investors, whilst closely monitoring and recording their intentions to hold, redeem, or add units in the funds. In view of these conversations, we believe the funds are currently well placed to pay investors who wish to cash in their investments, and retain sufficient cash to manage the Funds on an on-going basis. Currently the funds hold 26% cash, in addition to 3% held in Real Estate Investment Trusts (shares in other property funds). We will continue to engage and monitor the amount of cash we need, reviewing this up to the point of re-opening the funds.
The funds’ investments We believe the funds are well placed for investors looking for long-term investment in the UK property market. They are well diversified across sectors and geography, with property in locations we believe to be strong. The funds’ investments are currently weighted more towards industrial and alternative properties which we believe to have better long-term prospects, and less weighted to retail properties, which is currently the weakest part of the market.
Our outlook for the funds Although COVID-19 has resulted in many short-term challenges, we believe that the vast majority of this has already been felt. Whilst some sectors will take longer to recover than others, the stimuli put in place by the UK government have served to limit the damage. The funds’ investment manager, Legal & General Investment Management Limited, has many on-going initiatives which we expect to create value for investors over the short-term and we expect UK property to continue to deliver positive returns over the next five years. We believe that property is still an attractive diversifier in any balanced portfolio and is well positioned for investors with long-term horizons. We will provide further information and inform you once dealing in the funds has resumed via https://www. legalandgeneral.com/investments/investment-content/property-fund-suspension-notice / our website
Not all Fund Managers are in the same position with their property funds in the UK. A lot of ‘bricks and mortar’ funds are still suspended from trading to protect the underlying asset values for investors.
The other option is to buy a share based property fund but this does not have the same qualities for diversification, using a range of assets for volatility control/lower volatility overall. Share based property funds correlate to typical equity funds and will demonstrate similar volatility to them.