US property fund Madison International Realty is planning to spend as much as £1 billion buying bargain London buildings, as investors rush to pull their money out of UK property in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Madison, which already owns a stake in the Lloyds of London building, has raised a $1.39 billion (£1.07 billion) equity fund and founder Ronald Dickerman told the Financial Times: “We think the timing is perfect and we are looking to deploy a disproportionate amount of this fund into London.”
He told the FT that Madison will spend £200-400 million of its fund in London and could leverage this amount up to £1 billion.
The investment plans are a silver lining on the cloud that has built up over the UK property sector in the wake of the surprise UK’s surprise decision last month to leave the European Union.
A Singapore bank has put a blanket ban on mortgages on London properties and several property funds have had to stop investors withdrawing funds amid a rush of demand to pull money out of UK property. These funds simply they can’t sell their properties fast enough to raise the money investors are asking for.
Madison plans to play a role a little like Cash Converters but in the property market. Madison will offer a quick sale of a partial stake in the fund’s buildings, hopefully giving Madison a bargain and giving the funds the cash they need.
Dickerman told the FT: “We can be a liquidity provider to open-ended funds with queues for the exit.” Madison is reportedly already in touch with funds that have suspended redemptions.
Madison only buys stakes in properties rather than the whole thing and Dickerman says he hopes to get up to a 15% discount when shopping around in the UK.
Stockbroker finnCap on Friday estimated that prices in luxury districts in Central London could fall by as much as 20% over the next year as a result of the Brexit vote. However, Madison will focus on retail and office space in London.
Not only will prices likely be lower as funds look for a quick sale, the collapse in sterling since the Brexit vote means Madison’s cash will also go much further. The pound has fallen around 10% against the dollar to a 31-year-low since the June 23 vote.
Madison has investments in buildings worth $23 billion worldwide, including a 51% stake in the Saks Fifth Avenue department store in New York and Statoil’s Oslo headquarters in Norway.