One Of London’s Oldest Funds Could Be Broken Up Or Headed For New Management
The West End Of London Property Unit Trust is facing a queue of investors wanting to pull out their money and pressure to reform, which combined could lead to it being broken up or sold.
According to Bloomberg, the £836M fund managed by Schroders and Grafton Advisors has received redemption requests from investors totalling about £150M, around a fifth of its equity. It can repay investors 10% of its equity annually, and has done so in the previous two years.
Welput is one of London’s best known and oldest property funds, having been set up in 2001 by Schroders. It owns 11 assets including 98 Theobald’s Road in Midtown and 5/7 Carlton Gardens in St James’s.
The fund’s three largest investors, including Madison International Realty, own about three quarters of the equity. They are pushing for changes including lower fees, or options such as the sale of all or some of the fund’s assets, or a change of manager, Bloomberg said.
The current plan is to use debt and to sell buildings to repay investors. The fund has debt facilities from Wells Fargo that mean it can borrow up to £340M.
Welput has performed strongly throughout its life, but has faced these types of challenges before. In 2014 the fund raised £150M of new equity from investors to repay previous investors that wanted to exit the fund. At that point it was changed from a fixed-life fund to an open-ended vehicle.