EUROPE - AXA last week became the latest manager to halt investor withdrawals when it imposed a six-month deferral on "switches out, surrenders from and transfers out of" its AXA Pension property fund.

A spokesman for AXA said: "I don't think most of our investors will be surprised. We're not the first to do it."

The fund manager imposed the deferral to protect the interests of all investors in the fund and to maintain the fund's liquidity as transactions timescales lengthened.

"Commercial property funds always get flagged as higher risk because property is illiquid, but they still think it's a good long-term investment," said the spokesman. "Most are in it for the long-term, so there should be less of an impact."

The fund manager stressed regular withdrawals, death claims and pension benefits would not be affected by the move.