UK - Standard Life, the UK insurance company, has delayed redemptions from six commercial property funds worth £2.7bn (€2.9bn) as a result of the slowdown in property transactions.

The firm said the decision to freeze the funds was in the interest of its 212,000 savers, which include institutional investors, as fund managers feared having to sell assets at lower prices to pay back investors wanting to exit the funds.

"The continued deterioration of the UK commercial property market means we have to introduce some controls over the programme of sales of properties from within certain funds," said John Gil, managing director of customer services.

"Whilst this is an established method of dealing with such a situation, we also appreciate it is an unwelcome one for some investors. However, failure to take action now would increase the risk of us not being able to achieve the best deal for all investors in the fund, including those who intend to remain invested in the long-term," he added.

Customers in the Standard Life UK Unit Life and Pension Property Funds who request a switch, transfer or surrender will have to queue for up to six months for their request to be processed or until enough liquidity is raised from property sales.

One of the funds to be affected, the Pooled Property Fund, has 867 institutional clients with a total holding of £514m.

Other funds to introduce the queuing system include the Property One Fund, Pension Managed Property Fund, Individual Property One Fund, Property Investment Life Fund and Property Fund.

Standard Life's decision follows Aviva's announcement earlier this week to defer withdrawals from its unit-linked property fund.

Axa, Scottish Widows, Friends Provident and AEGON introduced queuing systems toward the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008 but have since lifted them.