EUROPE - Fidelity International has hired Neil Cable to drive its entry into the European real estate market.

Cable, who joins as Fidelity’s head of real estate in January, will spearhead the firm’s attempt to exploit what it predicts will be exponential growth in real estate investment funds (REITS).

Fidelity claims the global market for these and similar funds will grow at 10% annually for the next five years. The strongest growth will be in Japan, Germany and the UK – partly as a result of accelerated legislation announced late last year that will enable REITS to be set up in the UK.

Cable’s appointment coincides with the launch of Fidelity International’s first real estate funds. In January the firm will launch REIT-based global property fund – an indication, it said in a statement, of real estate’s emergence as a mainstream asset class – and an ISA-eligible retail fund.

The global fund it believes will provide solid diversification because of the low correlation between regional markets.

Fidelity’s US affiliate operates the largest REIT in that market, with assets of more than $5.6bn.

Cable joins Fidelity after 15 years at Standard Life, most recently developing real estate funds in the UK and the rest of Europe. Standard Life spokesman Richard England said the firm was still would replace Cable “in due course” and hinted at additional plans to boost the firm’s current property team.