Premier zero fund in switch to property

Premier has converted its 9.5m Zero Preference fund into a new pan-European property fund, which will invest in the shares of both commercial property companies and investment trusts.

Shareholders in the Zero Preference fund recently voted in favour of the changes, which Premier proposed because of the shrinking number of zeros on the market. The group expects that the number of zeros will fall to 40 by the end of next year.

As a result, the fund has changed its name to the Premier Pan-European Property Share fund. It has also changed its investment objective, giving the fund a new mandate to invest in property shares in Britain and across Europe.

According to Simon Weldon, managing director, sales and marketing at Premier, the fund chose to go pan-European to take advantage of the expansion of the European property market. He says the recent introduction of real estate investment trusts, a tax-efficient way to hold property investments, has largely prompted the change.

Alex Ross, who joined Premier last month and managed the Aberdeen Property Share unit trust and The Taverners trust until earlier this year, will run the fund. The 263m Aberdeen Property Share fund invests in property companies in Britain rather than on a pan-European basis and is now managed by Yoon-Chou Chong.

The new Premier fund will have several holdings in British stocks to begin with, says Weldon, but he adds that Ross (pictured) has already identified many potential investments in continental Europe.

Premier will eventually cap the new fund at 100m – a manageable level at which Ross can use his own investment style, according to Weldon. By capping the fund, the group says it is also seeking to protect initial investors in the fund from dilution of capital gains.

Weldon adds that the fund will also be included in Premier’s c~lect portfolio wrapper. The group is expecting a 3% yield on the fund, which will be run on the basis of maximising total return.

It has increased the annual management charge on the fund to 1.5% from 1.25%, with an initial charge of 5.25%.