SJ Berwin advises API on real estate

SJ Berwin has advised on the creation of four investment vehicles for Aberdeen Property Investors (API) and Matrix Securities.

Partner David Ryland led the deal for SJ Berwin. Ryland has created a powerful niche in property finance for the firm by developing new vehicles for indirect investment in property.

His relationship with API dates back to its previous incarnation as Barclays Property Investment, before its sale to Aberdeen Asset Management in October 2000.

This latest deal included setting up a limited partnership to buy the freehold of the Two Rivers Retail Park in Staines, Middlesex, from MEPC for £118m. API split the instruction between Ryland, who advised on the creation of the fund, and Lovells partner Francis Giacon, who acted on the acquisition.

MEPC, which retains a minority stake in the property by taking units within the new partnership, was advised by Linklaters & Alliance. Other investors included the Lattice Group, advised by Field Fisher Waterhouse, and the Regent Retail Parks Partnership.

Ryland advised both the new fund and the Regent Retail Parks Partnership on the loan arrangements with Wurttemberger Hypo, which was advised by Boodle Hatfield.

Since the acquisition, API has launched its residential property fund together with Barclays Pension Fund Trustees. Ryland again advised both. Investors in the Regent Residential Partnership include major Dutch funds PPPM and SFB.

Ryland says that overseas institutions are now taking sufficient interest in UK funds to demonstrate a possible trend. He says: “The Dutch are particularly used to indirect investment because it’s very common in Holland.”

For London-based Matrix Securities, Ryland set up two vehicles, each exceeding £60m. The timetable on the first – the forward funding of a factory outlet in Chatham – was particularly rigid.

Ryland says: “The trust was structured to allow investors to obtain the benefit of enterprise zone allowances, which are tax breaks.” It is because of this that the deal had to be concluded by the end of the tax year and was thus completed within six weeks. CMS Cameron McKenna property partner Nick Brown advised the developer.

The second transaction was a tax transparent Guernsey limited partnership. It was set up in connection with the forward funding of Edinburgh’s prestigious Calton Square development. Shepperd & Wedderburn acted for the developer Pillar.