EUROPE - Industry analysts reaffirmed their forecasts for a mid-2008 return to fair value in the UK property market last week after GIC's acquisition of shares in British Land triggered speculation the market had already started to bottom out.

The Singaporean sovereign wealth fund (SWF), known as the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), upped its share in the UK Reit to above 3%, putting it among the firm's top five investors, behind the €220m Dutch pension fund ABP.

British Land, the world's third-largest Reit with £15.9bn (€21bn) in assets under management, has lost half its share price in recent months.

However, Schroder's fund managers have voiced a consensus view suggesting the UK property market will not return to fair value before the spring.

A report released by CB Richard Ellis last week also argued Irish investors, previously active in the UK market, did not expect to see the market floor for a few months.

Much of the hype around GIC's share acquisition - an addition to the 15m shares worth £133m it already holds in other companies - has less to do with the UK market cycle than with current concerns over sovereign wealth funds' alleged lack of transparency. The OECD urged governments late last year to introduce codes of conduct for these state-owned investment vehicles clarifying their objectives, investment strategies and governance models.

In SWF terms, GIC ranks third in size behind UAE and Norway's state (oil) pension fund. According to OECD data for 2006, GIC has US$215bn (€145bn) in assets under management.

In separate news, ABP upped its shareholding in Land Securities, the UK Reit, without attracting significant attention.