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Royal London joins growing group to unfreeze British property funds

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal London Asset Management will reopen its suspended Royal London Property Fund and Royal London Property Trust on Sept. 30, joining several other British property funds in reopening after a six-month suspension.

Much of Britain’s 70-billion-pound property fund sector was frozen in March due to uncertainty about valuations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Surveyors lifted that uncertainty warning earlier this month.

Legal & General Investment Management LGEN.L said last week it was reopening its property funds on Oct. 13, while St James's Place SJP.L and Columbia Threadneedle have already reopened theirs.

Royal London said on its website late on Friday that, if there were liquidity concerns in its funds, it may need to sell real estate assets below market value to raise cash.

Other funds have said they have not yet made a decision about reopening, amid worries that investors may run for the exits once they get the chance.

Regulators are unhappy about funds which invest in illiquid assets but allow investors to take their money out frequently. Many of the funds were also suspended after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union in 2016.

The Financial Conduct Authority last month proposed that investors in property funds should wait up to six months before they can get their money back, to avoid a stampede for the exit leading to widespread suspensions in rocky markets.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Simon Jessop and Pravin Char

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