Home / Royal Mail / Business Bulletin: M&G suspends £2.5bn property fund amid Brexit tension | Royal Mail to continue £50m appeal | Morrisons promotes finance chief

Business Bulletin: M&G suspends £2.5bn property fund amid Brexit tension | Royal Mail to continue £50m appeal | Morrisons promotes finance chief

M&G Investments has suspended trading in its £2.5 billion property fund after a rush of investors sought to cash out amid Brexit uncertainty.

The FTSE 100 firm said it saw “high and sustained outflows” after the fund was hit by “Brexit-related political uncertainty and ongoing structural shifts in the UK retail sector”.

M&G said uncertainty made it more difficult to sell property assets to meet redemption requests from investors in its property portfolio.

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It said the property fund will be actively managed during the suspension but has decided to waive 30% of its annual charge.

The company, which only debuted on the London Stock Exchange in October after its long-awaited split from Prudential, said it has reached a point where it felt the suspension was needed to “protect the interests of the funds’ customers”.

Industry tracker Morningstar said in October that around £750 million was drawn out of M&G’s property portfolio during the first eight months of 2019.

M&G said it is continuing with its current strategy of attempting to raise cash levels sufficiently to pay redemptions, while assuring investors that asset sales are “achieved at market prices”.

M&G said orders made after midday on Wednesday will not be accepted until the suspension is lifted.

The fund covers investments in 91 UK commercial properties in the retail, industrial and office sectors, which were valued at a total of £2.54 billion at the end of October.

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M&G previously suspended dealing in its property funds prior to the Brexit vote in June 2016, alongside a number of other investment managers.

A Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) spokesman said: “The decision to suspend was made by the fund’s authorised corporate director, in conjunction with the depositary.

“This is to allow the fund time to raise liquidity levels and preserve value for investors through orderly asset sales.

“The FCA is working closely with the firms involved to ensure that timely actions are undertaken in the best interests of all the fund’s investors.”

Shares in the company were down 1.7% to 227p following the announcement.

Royal Mail is to continue to appeal over a £50 million fine from Ofcom after a tribunal upheld the punishment last month.

The delivery firm said it had asked for permission to challenge the Competition Appeal Tribunal decision in the Court of Appeal.

The fine was initially handed down by the communications regulator in August last year, after it found that Royal Mail had discriminated against one of its biggest rivals, Whistl.

In 2014, when Whistl was known as TNT, the company tried to become the first to seriously rival Royal Mail in delivering letters.

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However, the formerly state-owned business, which had been privatised the year before, used its dominant position to discriminate against the fast-growing rival.

Royal Mail later appealed against the £50 million penalty and, after the tribunal ruling last month, said it was still considering its legal options.

On Wednesday, the company said: “Royal Mail plc has lodged papers with the Competition Appeal Tribunal to seek permission to appeal its recent judgment on Royal Mail plc vs Office of Communications (Ofcom) to the Court of Appeal.”

Morrisons’ highly-rated finance chief has been promoted to chief operating officer, putting him into pole position to take on the top job when current chief executive David Potts steps down.

Trevor Strain will give up his position as chief financial officer, handing over the reins to Michael Gleeson, focusing solely on the operational side of the business.

Mr Potts said: “These two appointments are a result of strong management development plans at Morrisons and I am delighted that we are promoting two highly capable colleagues from within the team.

“Trevor is a proven and outstanding business leader who has played a pivotal role in the ongoing Morrisons turnaround.

“Michael has extensive financial, commercial and retail experience, together with a first-class track record, and his appointment will further strengthen the executive team.”

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