Update on the Legal & General UK Property Fund and the Legal & General UK Property Feeder Fund (the “Funds”)
The extreme market uncertainty caused by COVID-19 meant that trading in the L&G UK Property Fund was suspended from 18th March 2020. The LGUTM Board has now decided that the exceptional circumstances which caused the Funds’ continued suspension no longer apply and we have reopened the fund on 13th October 2020
“The Board of the Funds’ authorised fund manager, Legal & General (Unit Trust Managers) Limited (“LGUTM”) intends to reopen the Funds at 12:00 noon on 13 October 2020. This means we can receive client orders to trade after 12:00 noon on 12 October.
The Board is now confident that the following the criteria are met, and providing no new material issues come to light and it remains in the best interests of investors, the Funds can reopen on 13 October.
- Material Uncertainty Clauses apply to below 20% of the assets in the portfolios and the risk of going over 20% following reopening is limited
- The LGUTM Board is satisfied that valuations from the Funds’ independent valuer, Knight Frank, remain accurate and reflective of the market for transactions
- The Funds’ liquidity position remains well-placed to meet investor intentions and still has sufficient liquidity after redemptions are met
We will continue to monitor investor intentions and the factors outlined above in the lead up to the planned opening date. Should anything materially change, further communications will be issued.
The Funds are opening as soon as practicable, allowing for communication with the broad client base and ensuring sufficient notification periods are enabled.”
Latest Update: 02/09/2020
In accordance with the FCA’s regulatory requirements, the suspension is being formally reviewed by the Fund Manager’s Board every 28 days. The Board has reviewed and confirmed the suspension should remain in place with effect from 2 September 2020.
Why have we suspended dealing in the fund?
Given the impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak on global financial markets, the independent valuers of the Legal & General UK Property Fund (the “Fund”) and the Legal & General UK Property Feeder Fund (together, the “Funds”), Knight Frank LLP, introduced a material valuation uncertainty clause as of 18th March to its valuations of the underlying properties in the Fund. As such, we could not be confident about the valuation of properties, and in the interests of customers and in the light of our regulatory responsibilities, we took the decision to suspend the Funds.
Although now the material uncertainty clauses are being removed from the assets in the Funds, we cannot reopen the Funds until we are confident that to do so will be in the best interests of investors and the exceptional circumstances affecting the Funds no longer apply, taking into account all of the following:
- At least 80% of the Fund’s assets have valuations that are free from the material uncertainty clauses;
- We are confident that units can be marked at a fair and reliable price for investors;
- We believe the Funds will be able to remain open, taking into account potential outflows that may impact the level of material uncertainty clauses and the liquidity position of the Funds.
Having considered all of the factors, the authorised fund manager, Legal & General (Unit Trust Managers) Limited (LGUTM), has decided to continue the suspension of the Funds. The LGUTM board came to this decision as there is currently a risk of a further suspension and/or a liquidity event upon reopening of the Funds. This decision will be reviewed periodically and the LGUTM board will reopen the Funds when the risks associated with reopening can be managed and it is in the best interests of investors to do so.
Original letter to Investors announcing fund suspension: 18 March 2020
We are writing to confirm that in light of extreme market volatility and the exceptional circumstances in the UK property market, we have taken the difficult decision to suspend trading in the Legal & General UK Property Fund (the “Fund”) and Legal & General UK Property Feeder Fund (the “Feeder Fund”)
The suspension will apply to any instructions to be effected on or after the valuation point at 12.00 midday on 18th March 2020. This means we cannot process any instruction to buy, sell, transfer or switch shares in the funds placed after midday on 17th March 2020. Any monies received for purchases will not be accepted and will be returned to investors. The suspension will remain in place until further notice.
Why have we suspended dealing in the fund?
Given the impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak on global financial markets, the Fund’s independent valuers, Knight Frank LLP, has introduced a material valuation uncertainty clause as of 18th March to its valuations of the underlying properties in the Fund. As this means we cannot be confident about the valuation of properties, in the interests of customers and in the light of our regulatory responsibilities we have taken the decision to suspend the Funds.
This uncertainty is due to the unprecedented set of circumstance caused by the COVID-19 virus impacting market activity across all sectors. This means the independent valuers are unable to rely on previous market experience to inform their opinion of values of the properties held by the Fund. We believe this suspension to be the fairest outcome for all investors, taking an appropriate forward looking view through the current crisis. While the Funds have sufficient liquidity to meet redemptions received so far, we have taken this action as a prudent and temporary measure until such times as these extreme conditions stabilise and the uncertainty around property valuations is removed.
Despite the suspension, the Fund’s strategic position is particularly well placed for the long-term UK property market outlook. The property portfolio is well diversified across sectors and geography, with assets in locations we believe to be strong and below benchmark vacancy rates. From a sector position the portfolio is overweight to industrial and alternatives which we believe to have better long term dynamics and underweight to the retail sector, which is currently the weakest part of the market. At present we have high levels of liquidity with 24% held in cash and 2% in Real Estate Investment Trusts, which should help us navigate the market during this declared period of valuation uncertainty.
What happens next?
We will continue to monitor the Fund and market closely and take all actions that we consider to be in the best interests of investors, with a view to resuming dealing in the Funds as soon as possible. We continue to engage frequently with our regulator, the FCA, our independent valuers and with industry bodies such as the Association of Real Estate Funds. Once valuation certainty has been re-established by the independent valuers, we will look to reopen the Funds as soon as we are able.
For now, any requests to buy, sell or exchange shares of the Funds during the suspension will not be processed. If you placed orders to buy, sell or exchange shares since the Funds were suspended, we ask that you kindly re-submit them once dealing resumes.
We will provide further information about the suspension and inform you once dealing in the Funds has resumed via our website and through direct communications.
We intend to continue to calculate and publish the prices of the Funds during the period of suspension.
If you have any questions, please visit https://www.legalandgeneral.com/investments/contact-us/ and we will endeavour to respond to your query as quickly as possible. However, please understand that given the current challenging environment and health situation we may not be able to speak to you immediately. We appreciate your patience at a time of global and national emergency, during which we are taking steps to protect our employees and the wider public.
Honor Solomon, Director
For and on behalf of Legal & General (Unit Trust Managers) Limited
Can I add to or take out any investments I have in the Legal & General UK Property Fund and the Legal & General UK Property Feeder Fund?
Unfortunately, you cannot buy or sell units in the Property Funds while trading is suspended.
If you’re investing in one of our Property Funds regularly via direct debit, we’ll make sure that we’re not collecting any payment from you while the funds are suspended.
We’ll keep you informed through regular updates on our website at https://www.legalandgeneral.com/investments/ about the suspension and when you can buy or sell units in the funds again.
You have collected my monthly Direct Debit just recently. Will that money be invested?
Any money we collect which we cannot use to buy units due to the suspension will be refunded to your bank account. Your direct debit will be adjusted to remove the suspended fund. If you would like to re-start the direct debit in the suspended fund once it’s reopened you can complete a new direct debit mandate.
What does this mean for other Legal & General funds?
At this time, only the L&G UK Property Fund and the L&G UK Property Feeder Fund have been suspended. If you would like to continue saving into your ISA or Unit Trusts, you can invest in any of our other funds.
What happens to any income payments I receive from the L&G UK Property Fund or the L&G UK Property Feeder Fund?
If the income payments from your investment are currently paid to you, you will continue to receive them as normal.
The fund’s income, and the income we pay to you, typically comes from rental payments we receive from tenants in the fund’s properties. The mandatory closure of many shops and businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19 means that many of our tenants have suffered reduced revenues. We’ve been proactively working with our tenants during this difficult time in order to offer short-term support where appropriate. In some cases this has meant that we have agreed to rent deferrals, with the due rent being deferred during the period that COVID-19 is affecting their businesses, with this deferred rent then being repaid over a period of typically 12-18 months once they are back trading effectively. This is to help provide the necessary support for these companies and give them a better chance of succeeding in the future. You may see a slight reduction in the amount of income you would typically receive from the fund while the majority of UK businesses are closed to the public, but we would expect that this reduction will be offset by a corresponding increase when the effect of COVID-19 has calmed and the rent is repaid.
Will investments in the L&G UK Property Fund or the L&G UK Property Feeder Fund affect my ISA allowance?
If you invested in either of these funds through an individual savings account (ISA), these will be protected and your tax-year allowance unaffected by the suspension. If you wish to further use your ISA tax-year allowance, you can do so by choosing to invest in any of our other funds. If you’re uncertain what’s best for your savings, investments and pensions, it might be a good idea to consult a professional financial adviser. You can find a full list of authorised financial advisers in your area at www.unbiased.co.uk
Will my ISA status be maintained if I am investing in the L&G UK Property Fund or the L&G UK Property Feeder Fund through an L&G Stocks and Shares ISA?
Yes. Your investment will continue to maintain its ISA status.