IRELAND - Ireland's National Pensions Reserve Fund is to invest £30m (€44m) in specialist property fund The Mall as part of its €135m commitment to real estate.

It is one of the first significant investments by the NPRF on the real estate front after announcing in April this year that it committed a €225m to real estate and private equity in the first quarter of 2006.

The Irish fund bought the assets from Capital & Regional (CAL) group, which founded the Mall, a leading owner and operator of community shopping centres with assets of over £3bn, in conjunction with Morley Fund Management in March 2002.

The NPRF's head of property Ian Gleeson said: "This is our third UK investment and it provides us with immediate exposure to the retail sector with a best in class management team and platform."

CAL said that is "pleased to see a new investor in the Mall Fund". CAL remains the largest single investor in the fund, with a 24.2% stake.

Philip Nell, fund manager of the fund at Morley, explained that this was a "significant investment, adding to the increasing investor base of the fund."

Indeed the NPRF follows in the footsteps of Dutch pension fund ABP and Danish investor Sparinvest who made investments earlier this year. "The fund now has a wide investor base of 45 institutional investors," said Nell.

The NPRF said in April that is has a target of 8% allocation to both real estate and private equity; this target is to be achieved on a phased basis by the end of 2009.