Channel Islands still attract UK property funds

The Insight Property Portfolio fund will invest in UK commercial property with a target distribution yield of 4.5%. It will aim to have 10 underlying property funds that hold assets with a combined value of more than £5bn. The fund has the right to acquire interests in an existing portfolio of offshore property unit trusts.

Nick Kershaw, a partner of Ogier & Le Masurier, says that although the UK is looking to introduce a tax-efficient property vehicle, known as the property investment fund, the Channel Islands is likely still to offer more flexibility, fewer borrowing restrictions and more favourable tax treatment.

Schroders, Merrill Lynch, Threadneedle and Hendersons all have property funds based in Jersey, while Morley and Legal & General have moved UK limited partnerships to the island in the past six months.

The move offshore by property funds has been driven partly by the introduction of the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in the UK in December 2003, and was extended to cover transfers of interests in partnerships in July. Jersey unit trusts, says Kershaw, are not subject to SDLT.