ESB sells off Standard Life fund position

ESB has sold its stake in SL's European Property Growth Fund, which invested in 31 properties in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Spain and Sweden.

Irish corporate pension the Electricity Supply Board General Employees Superannuation Fund (ESB) has sold more of its position in Standard Life Investments European Property Growth Fund, according to UK regulatory notices.

This most recent sale saw a portion of its stake go to Standard Life Assurance. Last week, another portion was sold to the Nottinghamshire County Council, an existing limited partner in the fund and in May, a part of the position was sold to the Government Employees Superannuation Board in Perth, Australia, according to regulatory filings.

Standard Life Investments European Property Growth Fund is a 2001-vintage fund that raised a total of €800 million. It initially closed on €300 million in 2002 but was restructured from a closed-ended structure to open-ended three years later, after LPs demanded increased flexibility and a longer fund life, according to Standard Life’s website.

LPs include Aviva Investors and Danish financial services Pen-Sam, according to PEI’s Research and Analytics division. The employees’ pension plan of Pfizer’s Swiss division was also an LP in the fund, but sold its stake in August.

The European Property Growth Fund invests in industrial, office and retail real estate in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Spain and Sweden. The fund had invested in 31 properties in nine countries by 2008, including an €80 million portfolio of four properties in Sweden and Belgium. The properties included two retail warehouse-terraces in Sweden, an office block in Brussels and a light industrial estate near Antwerp.

Between 2001 and 2008, the fund generated an annual return rate of 12.2 percent (net of all fees), according to Standard Life’s website. Its current target return rate is 10 percent per year, over a 5-year period.

Standard Life is currently in market with its European Real Estate Fund, which launched this year and has collected about €29 million toward its €350 million target, according to PEI data.

Both ESB and Standard Life were unavailable to comment by press time.