Palmer to double its legal spend with Reit creation

Property venture capital company Palmer Capital Partners (PCP) will almost double its legal spend following the creation of a £250m real estate investment fund, which is claimed to be the first real estate investment trust (Reit) to be offered in the UK.

PCP chief executive and legal director Christopher Digby-Bell said the company’s annual legal spend would increase by at least £2m to a total of approximately £5m to cover the costs associated with the Palmer Capital Development Fund’s investments in commercial real estate developments.

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) is expected to secure a large slice of PCP’s increased legal fees, as it was commercial partner Tim Simmonds, assisted by Victoria Sawyer, who advised on the creation of the fund.

Digby-Bell said lawyers from a further 14 firms, including Eversheds, Forsters, Wedlake Bell and Wragge & Co, would also benefit, as the company selected its legal advisers based on individuals rather than their firms.

He claims the fund is “in effect” the first UK Reit to be created, even though Property Investment Funds (the UK Government’s version of Reits) are not due to be formally introduced into the UK for a further two years.

This is because the fund enables institutions and private investors to gain exposure to the UK development market for the first time through a pooled vehicle, just like the proposed Reits would.

Digby-Bell explained that the entirely onshore fund used a unit trust vehicle in combination with a limited partnership to offer a tax-transparent investment vehicle that allowed investors to trade their holdings without incurring Stamp Duty Land Tax.

Norton Rose corporate finance partner Ian Fox acted for the fund investors, including clients of Arlington Prop-erty Investors, ING Real Estate Investment Manage-ment and Schroder Property Investment Management.