GLOBAL - Aberdeen Asset Management has appointed Andrew Smith as group head of property.

Smith, currently chief investment officer and head of fund management, was the "natural choice" to replace retiring head Rickard Backlund, according to a press statement.

Backlund has overseen a decade of corporate growth - both organic and acquisitive - at the fund manager, which has assets under management of £22.6bn (€26.3bn).

"The priority is to ensure continuity rather than make changes for the sake of them," said Smith. "We recently stated in our interim results that our focus group-wide was on organic growth. In terms of property, we have a strong platform to offer direct and fund-of-funds products for investment on a single country or regional basis."

Existing investors have "broadly welcomed" Smith's appointment. "They appreciate the continuity of someone internal who is familiar with all aspects of the business," he said.

The appointment coincides with plans to launch a third Asian pooled fund-of-funds.  In a statement, it said it was also seeing growth in interest in the fund manager's single-country and regional funds.

Pension funds make up 49% of Aberdeen investors, mainly (53%) via of direct collective funds. Around 38% of the manager's mandates comprise direct segregated mandates.
In recent Aberdeen report, Smith championed indirect property investment as "intact", despite a loss of confidence among large investors over leverage and lack of control over commingled funds (see earlier IPE Real Estate article: Aberdeen shoots down growth of pension fund JVs).

According to the report, "Investors with limited resources have access to portfolios of a size, quality and geographical spread that would be unavailable through other means."