UPDATE 1-Janus Henderson to lift suspension on UK property fund

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LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Janus Henderson said on Wednesday it would end the suspension of dealing in its UK Property fund and associated feeder fund nearly a year after COVID-19 drove the fund manager to freeze trading owing to uncertainty over asset valuations.

Much of Britain’s 70 billion pound ($95.94 billion) property fund sector was frozen in March for at least six months as the pandemic meant surveyors could not be sure about property prices.

Surveyors lifted a warning about valuation uncertainty in Sept 2020, and Aberdeen Standard Investments and BlackRock are among managers to have unfrozen their UK property funds in recent months.

“For diversification and income reasons I still believe the (property fund) sector has a lot to offer investors,” said Darius McDermott, managing director of independent broker Chelsea Financial Services.

Janus Henderson said the suspension had allowed it time to sell properties and raise cash to pay back investors who wanted to leave the fund. Once opened, it said it would look to maintain cash levels at more than 15%.

The asset manager sold 11 properties while the fund was suspended, most at prices above Dec 2019 valuations, Janus Henderson said in a statement.

At end-Dec 2020, the fund’s cash level was 27.1%, Janus Henderson said. The fund will reopen on Feb. 24.

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