Panic selling shuts £2bn fund
One of Britain's biggest property funds was forced to shut its doors to withdrawals yesterday after the slump in commercial prices triggered panic selling by small investors.
The move prompted fears of a Northern Rock-style run on billions of pounds invested in once high-flying funds which many savers have seen as a safe haven for their pensions.
Scottish Equitable said yesterday that 129,000 small investors in its £2bn property fund will not be able to access their money for up to a year, although payments relating to regular income already being paid, retirements and death claims will not be affected.
It said the fund, invested in London office blocks and shopping centres across Britain, no longer had sufficient cash reserves to meet demands from investors wanting to withdraw their money. Its "buffer fund" was down to 1% of its total assets, instead of the usual 10-15%.
Commercial property values, especially in the City of London office market, have dived amid fears of a recession brought on by the global credit crunch.
In late December another insurer, Friends Provident, halted access to its £1.2bn property fund and last night speculation was growing that Scottish Widows may be on the verge of restricting customer withdrawals on some of its funds. The insurer said last night: "We are looking at all the options, but no decisions have been taken."
Can the same happen in Australian Property Securties Managed Fund industry ? Or worse still spread to Share Managed Fund ?
I can see that people are already in that 'get me out of here' mood.