UK - The £20.3bn (€23.1bn) pension fund for BP has bought an out-of-town retail park in the UK and an office building in London, and plans to invest a further £100-150m in its domestic real estate market before the end of the year.

Ropemaker Properties, the pension fund's real estate arm, has acquired Taunton Retail Park in England from Aviva Investors Property Trust (formerly Norwich Union Property Trust) for £17.8m.

The retail park is home to six tenants, including Homebase, Comet, Currys, and has an annual rent of £1.69m.

The pension fund has also exchanged contracts for an office building in Hammersmith, west London for £24.5m.

The purchases are the latest in a succession of 18 UK property acquisitions since February 2008, representing over £400m of investment.

"We have been very active over the last 18 months," said Tim Hayne, head of property at Ropemaker. "We still have an undrawn allocation so we would hope to invest a further £100-£150m before year-end."

Through Ropemaker, the BP pension fund has screened all UK property sectors to find the best investment opportunities on a deal-by-deal basis.

"We are very much opportunistic buyers rather than being sector-led," said Hayne.
In addition to the recent retail and office purchases, Ropemaker also has an industrial estate in Watford, England under offer for £17.7m.

In October 2008, the pension fund announced it had signed a joint venture between Ropemaker and Cube Real Estate to acquire assets outside central London valued at under £15m and requiring intensive asset management.

The Cubemaker Partnership, to which the BP pension fund committed £40m, has yet to make any acquisitions.

Ropemaker's other joint venture with Great Portland Estates, which aims to acquire property investments in central London, on the other hand has started to buy property.

The joint venture, to which the pension fund has committed £125m, acquired a site in March at 240 Blackfriars Road in Southwark where planning consent for a 192,000 square foot office development will commence following "a pre-let or economic upturn".