UK - Lend Lease has asked information clearing house Indirex to create a secure document room for its flagship Retail Partnership fund in a move that could significantly boost the secondary trading market in the medium-term.
Under the deal, existing and potential investors in the £688m (€871m) unlisted fund will be able to access fund data ranging from net asset value to quarterly reports.
Lend Lease will benefit from greater efficiency but will also have greater visibility on which investors are accessing information and what data they are seeking, enabling it to target products more effectively.
Biren Amin, head of equity at Lend Lease, was keen to highlight that the deal was for a repository to offer information to current and prospective investors, not to enable secondary market trading - though he did not rule out involvement in the secondary market in future.
However, Melville Rodrigues, partner in law firm CMS Cameron McKenna, described the Lend Lease initiative as "very welcome" because it strengthened the link between liquidity in the secondary market and transparency. "It will be a catalyst for greater scope. Investors are looking for more liquidity and more scope for exit. The exit strategy is key," he said.
Ashley Marks, director at Jones Lang LaSalle corporate finance, which has handled £65m in transactions in the Lend Lease fund since 2010, said: "Lend Lease wants to keep it at arm's length." He added: "This will allow them to save time, provide pricing, and offer investors online due diligence without the fund manager getting involved."
Indirex CEO Colin Barber denied that the platform would compete with existing trading platform Property Match, pointing out that Indirex does not act as a broker. According to Marks, Property Match and JLL's trading platform, which Indirex hosts, are currently neck-and-neck in terms of trading volumes — and he points out that both give investors access to secondary opportunities.
Michael Levi, head of indirect property and property derivatives at GRI, which co- developed Property Match, said he was seeing a "positive upward spiral" in activity on the platform every few months. "It isn't a perfect product by any means but the more transactions there are, the smaller the spreads and the more comfort there is among investors," he said.
In the meantime, one industry analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity, compared the current fragmentation of the secondary market to Victorian railway lines. "We need more consistency — a combination of Property Match, Indirex and IPD — to make the market infrastructure more robust," he said. "To expand, the secondary market needs investors looking for greater transparency, managers to react to that and facilitators to create the platform."