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Flagship Boots store on Oxford Street snapped up by Norway’s sovereign wealth fund looking for bargains after Brexit vote

A flagship Boots store on Oxford Street in central London has been snapped up by Norway’s sovereign wealth fund as it hunted for bargains after the Brexit vote.

The four-storey shop was sold by Aberdeen Asset Management in July, just five days after coming to market. Aberdeen was forced to act as panicking investors tried to take their money out of its property fund after the Brexit vote.

Along with several other investment groups, it temporarily blocked withdrawals to buy time to raise extra cash.

Buyer Norges Bank Real Estate Management said the £124m deal was one of the fastest it had ever completed, and boasted that it had secured a ‘significant discount’.

The deal is likely to be seen as a sign of confidence in Britain after pro-EU campaigners warned that the commercial property market would crash following the referendum.



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£9.1 billion in commercial property funds suspended

Standard Life has shut a property fund worth £2.9 billion after a rush to withdraw money following the EU referendum as fears for the UK property market grow.

In a note to investors, Standard Life blamed “exceptional market circumstances” for the decision to suspend trading in its UK property fund for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis.

The fund invests in a mixture of commercial real estate in the UK, including office blocks, shopping centres and warehouses.

M&G Investments has followed two major finance firms and suspended trading in the UK’s biggest commercial property fund following the Brexit vote.

Firms said high levels of uncertainty caused by the referendum have led to investors rushing to withdraw funds.
M&G closed the doors on its £4.4bn fund after Aviva and Standard Life halted trading in similar schemes.

M&G, part of UK insurer Prudential, said it had seen a “marked increase” in customers trying to pull out of the portfolio – which includes retail and office space – after the referendum result.

As with Aviva and Standard Life, the firm said investors would be better protected by preventing any further withdrawals.

Aviva, the UK’s biggest insurer, earlier halted its £1.8bn property trust, a day after Standard Life blocked access to its £2.9bn fund.

It takes time to sell commercial property to meet withdrawals, particularly as investors have been heading for the door in the run up to the EU referendum and in the aftermath.

The last time Standard Life stopped investors taking money out of its UK real estate fund was during the financial crisis in late 2008, while Aviva has never previously done so.