LONDON Insurer Prudential is set to become the first institutional investor to enter Britain's rented housing market in recent times, the Financial Times reported on Monday citing people familiar with the matter.
The Prudential Property Investment Management division - part of M&G, the insurer's asset management arm - is close to a deal to buy more than 500 homes from housebuilder Berkeley, the FT reported.
The deal is expected to be agreed this week and to value the portfolio at about 140 million pounds, according to the FT, and could pave the way for the growth of a corporate-backed letting market.
The government is keen to encourage institutions to become landlords as it looks to tackle Britain's housing shortage. Chancellor George Osborne said in March he was setting aside 1 billion pounds in funding for homes to be built for the purpose of renting to private individuals.
Reuters reported in March that big investors such as pension funds and insurers were looking to make more investments directly rather than investing in funds.
Insurer Legal & General said in March it was taking a 46.5 percent stake in UK housebuilder CALA Group alongside Patron Capital, part of a plan to do more direct investments in education, housing, transport and energy.
Prudential could not be reached for comment.
(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Hugh Lawson)