GLOBAL - Large institutional investors are looking to invest with smaller, more intimate groups of ‘like-minded' investors, according to pension fund-related investors, as concerns have arisen about commingled funds with large, often anonymous, investor bases.

A number of large investors, including Roderick Munsters, CIO at APG Investments, the asset manager for the Dutch ABP pension fund, made the point at last month's INREV annual conference in Athens.

"What we are spending time on is partnering up with like-minded investors," Munsters said. "Not too many and not your usual 10 or 20 in a club deal, but two, three, four like-minded… institutions with a similar perspective."

Laura McGrath, managing director at TIAA CREF, also revealed the US retirement giant was considering smaller investor groupings, citing the lack of control in commingled funds when things go wrong.

"You put in place governance which you think should protect you in a time of difficulties," she said. "But when you have such a disparate investor base, [when] you have investors with varying degrees of appetite and regulatory ability to take a formal decision… it becomes very difficult."

Hermann Aukamp, CIO and director of real estate investments at German pension fund NAEV, complained that fund managers had not been proactive enough in responding to the downturn.

"[Investors] will look at other investors and they will look for a manager who can invest their money in a club fund or something like this," he predicted.

Speaking separately to IPE Real Estate, Paul Clark, director of investment and asset management at The Crown Estate, said the traditional closed-ended fund model with a large number of investors had been "stress tested to a point where we can see its failings."

He said The Crown Estate was more likely to seek joint ventures with "very small partnerships of two or three, rather than seven, eight, 10 or more," he said.

Tim Hoeppner, managing director at the McArthur Foundation, warned that a tendency among investors to become "more clubbish and more similar" would come into conflict with fund managers' attempts to diversify their investor bases.

"Or it could be you get a bifurcation where large investors group together and more mid-sized, smaller investors tend to group together," he said.

"It will be interesting to see how that plays out."