REAL ESTATE - Halladale has appointed former Aberdeen and Arlington managing director David Hunter as a consultant to Rynda, its majority-owned fund management business.

The UK commercial property group set up Rynda last year to expand its co-investment fund management business under Michael Walton, former managing director of Citigroup Property Investors.

Rynda will launch and manage specialist global real estate funds. Although Halladale did not disclose details of specific funds it plans to launch this year, Hunter said he would take “a typical consultancy role with them, offering advice that will maximise funds’ chances of success”.

He takes up the role just four months after setting up his own property fund consultancy. “Rynda does what I set up my business to do,” said Hunter. “I have a lot of interesting ideas and Rynda will give me the opportunity to put them into practice.”

Elsewhere, Real Estate Investors (REI) has attributed positive results to industry expertise in a market that has seen yields compress significantly.

Year-end results posted by the firm last week revealed a 31% increase in property assets to £19.8m and an increase in rental income to £1.2m. Chairman John Jack said in a results statement: “To say that the UK property markets remain challenging is something of an understatement, but [we] have experience of tough markets.”

CEO Peter Lewin claimed there were still opportunities in the UK market, though they were harder to get at. “You need expertise and skill. We’ve been in property for many years and we know what we’re doing,” he said.

Last year’s asset increase was the result of two acquisitions: a retail property in Hemel Hempstead, let to energy firm Centrica, and a long-lease town centre office in West Bromwich. The company plans further acquisitions of asset-rich property companies during 2006, with a focus on retail and industrial rather than office properties. “It’s good for the vendors and it’s good for us,” said Lewin.

Despite compressed yields in the UK market, Lewin claimed investors were increasingly interested in real estate as they become disillusioned with equities and demutualised insurance companies but had ready access to liquidity.

“Property makes sense when there’s so much cheap money around,” he said.