The Highland County Council pension fund has awarded Standard Life Investments a £55m (€73.6m) mandate to invest in property debt.

The UK pension fund made the decision last month after considering 11 managers, according to documents filed with the EU.

It judged the Standard Life Investments strategy the most “economically advantageous” tender in terms of quality and price.

The pension fund first tendered the mandate for a new 4% allocation to UK commercial real estate debt just over one year ago.

The council, which had always preferred a single investment manager, began considering the strategy in 2014.

In minutes from a meeting in August 2014, Highland said property debt had the “characteristics of fixed income” and decided that its best option was a dedicated property debt fund.

A pooled vehicle, it said, would need to focus “exclusively, or primarily, on UK property debt”.

Discretion to invest to a limited level in other regions, such as Western European countries, was also part of the pension fund’s criteria.

Highland said it preferred a property debt fund focused primarily on whole loans but with discretion to invest to a limited level in the wider spectrum of loans, such as senior debt and mezzanine debt.

The investment is being funded mainly from Gilts (2.5%), with the balance – 1.5% – expected to be funded from equities.

Standard Life Investments began making real estate debt investments in the UK in 2013, having secured £250m in insurance capital from its parent. Neil Odom-Haslett was appointed head of commercial real estate lending in the same year.