Canada pension funds hold back on UK deals ahead of Brexit vote

Thu Mar 17, 2016 1:00am EDT
 
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* Funds concerned about 'Brexit' impact on City of London

* Canadian funds have been 2nd biggest UK real estate buyers

* Retreat raises concerns over inbound UK investment

By Matt Scuffham

TORONTO, March 17 (Reuters) - Some of Canada's top pension funds, among the world's biggest investors in British real estate and infrastructure, are holding back on UK deals until after Britons vote on whether to leave the European Union, according to senior executives.

These funds, which together manage more than C$700 billion ($524 billion) in assets, fear valuations could drop if Britain chooses to leave the bloc and have particular concerns about the impact on London's financial district, the executives said.

There is no precedent for an economy as big as Britain's leaving a trade bloc, and the rival campaigns paint contrasting pictures of what quitting the EU might mean for its trade.

Pro-Europe campaigners say banks and other financial institutions could pull operations out of the City of London if they cannot access critical EU markets.

An executive at one of Canada's biggest public pension funds, who spoke off the record due to the sensitivity of the issue, said the risks posed by the June 23 vote were part of the reason it passed on a recent deal for an office property in London's financial district.   Continued...