EUROPE - The UK University Superannuation Scheme (USS) has agreed a £150m (€174.8m) five-year joint venture with Metric Property Investments to invest in smaller, regional out-of-town retail parks and single retail units.

The Metric Income Plus Limited Partnership (MIPP) will target income-producing assets valued at between £2m and £20m. 

Metric has already agreed to acquire two assets for the vehicle, in Swindon and Inverness, with a combined value of just under £20m.

The pension scheme has committed equity of £50m to the joint venture, with Metric contributing £25m.

This will be the first joint venture for Metric, a listed company set up last year by the former British Land retail team. 

A spokeswoman for the company would not confirm that further joint ventures were in the offing, but she said additional joint ventures would offer "a good way to grow the business".

Income-producing assets mark a departure for the firm, which, for its own portfolio, has acquired retail requiring intensive asset management.

In separate news, Henderson has issued a "top recommendation" for retail warehousing, which it said offered good scope for lowering volatility through geographical diversification in regionally uncorrelated European markets.

In a note published today, the fund manager forecast five-year outperformance for warehousing compared with other core sectors, not least because rents have begun to plateau after several years of decline.

"Investors still have the opportunity to capture the full frontal recovery cycle in most markets, unlike shops or offices where prime rents have already improved," it said.

Despite pressure on retailers to contain costs - and rent being a significant overhead - warehousing offered value in markets "where the sector is comparatively immature [and] has not been exploited by asset managers".

Although retail warehousing in continental Europe is unlikely to become established as it is in the UK, not least because of planning laws, Henderson claimed widespread scarcity of supply created some scope for catch-up with high streets and shopping centres.