LONDON-UK institutional investors placed a net £1.29 billion ($1.9 billion) in property was in the second quarter of 2001, up from £1.08 billion ($1.6 billion) in the first quarter. Total turnover by insurance companies and pension funds in the quarter was £3.89 billion ($5.72 billion), almost the same as a the £3.80 billion ($5.58 billion) recorded in the previous quarter.

Greg Nicholson, Head of Investment at CB Hillier Parker pointed out that the figures cover a period well before 11 September, and that the full impact of that those events would not be felt until the fourth quarter of the year. But he said: ‘The figures for the second quarter show that institutions are sustaining their interest in property.’

Nicholson forecast that property would be seen as a safe haven for investors. ‘When set against the sharp reduction in the equity markets in the last two weeks, on top of the falls earlier in the year, and an uncertain future, the high-income yield of property will provide some stability to property returns,’ he said.

But he warned that falling equity values meant that many funds were close to the limit of their allocation to the property sector, and they would therefore have balance acquisitions with sales to maintain weightings. Equally, Nicholson expects funds to be cautious about stock selection. ‘We expect investors will be particularly cautious about properties let to tenant companies most likely to be adversely affected by the events in America. This inevitably focuses on the financial services industry in the City, and Western Corridor offices where US occupiers were particularly active in the last few years,’ he said.

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