UK - US property fund manager Cohen & Steers has set up a London office to capitalise on pension funds’ burgeoning appetite for indirect investment.

The office will target continental as well as UK pension funds but asked if the timing of the UK launch were significant, Paul Osbourne, head of European institutional marketing, said "there’s never a perfect answer because you always wish you’d done it before".

Driving pension fund interest in real estate is the promise of income, growing appetite for alternatives, and property’s potential role in liabilities matching, he said.

Cohen & Steer focuses exclusively on real estate securities but Osborne dismissed observations from some analysts suggesting increased pension fund interest in securities would come at the expense of direct investment.

"They want a blend of direct and indirect investment – the balance changes depending on the market," he said. "It’s impractical to expect them to move from one to the other."

Among appointments to the London office is former CBRE portfolio manager Leonard Geiger as director of European real estate security research and Scott Crowe, from UBS, as a global strategist.

The firm said the London office reflected its commitment to the global real estate market. "It’s the last asset class to go global," he added.