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LONDON-Aberdeen Asset Management is prepared to sell its £125 million ($196 million) property arm rather than float it to raise much needed cash.

The fund manager is currently embroiled in a much wider financial scandal centred on the £13 billion ($20.4 billion) industry in split capital investment trusts and which is currently being investigated by regulatory bodies. As the scandal grew, the value of split capital trusts fell and Aberdeen was forced to look elsewhere to raise capital and cut its £250 million ($393 million) debt pile. The preferred option earlier this year was the £100 million ($157 million) flotation of its property investment operation, API.

But now Aberdeen has confirmed that since it unveiled these proposals it has received at least 20 approaches about buying API. Analysts believe that a trade sale could raise more than a flotation and could raise quicker.

Press speculation has cited fund managers Morley and Schroder as well as British Land as potential suitors. The division is also thought to have attracted interest from US companies.

The attraction of API lies in its position as one of the largest independent property fund managers in Europe. The division accounts for a quarter, or £5.6 billion ($8.7 billion), of Aberdeen’s assets under management. During the last year it attracted £500 million ($785 million) of new funds, mainly from the appointment of API as one of the external fund managers for the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s £950 million ($1.5bn) European portfolio.

Then in October, despite the growing scandal over investment trusts which embroiled its parent company, API bought the property management company of Finland’s largest institutional property investor, Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance Company. The Ilmarinen portfolio comprises 1.4m sq m of commercial properties in Finland, valued at £1.4 billion ($2.1 billion).

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