Investors pulled almost £3bn out of UK property funds over the past year, highlighting the toll that extended Brexit uncertainty and high street gloom have had on the sector. 

Data prepared by Morningstar shows that £2.8bn was taken from 15 open-ended commercial property funds that offer daily liquidity to investors, putting pressure on the cash buffers used to cover customer withdrawals. One of the UK's largest property funds, M&G, was suspended earlier this week after almost £1bn was withdrawn by investors over the past year. The Aberdeen UK Property Fund was the second-worst performer and suffered about £773m in cash withdrawals. M&G's £2.5bn fund had a relatively high exposure to the troubled retail property sector, accounting for about 37% of the portfolio in October, according to the ratings agency Fitch. It meant the fund was more sensitive to a drop in the value of those properties after a review by the property consultants Knight Frank last month.

The Aberdeen UK Property Fund was the only fund with a higher exposure, at 43%. However, M&G's problem could end up snowballing if the suspension ends up spooking other investors into pulling money from other property funds, Fitch warned.

About the Author: Glen Callow

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