The Brexit mayhem and consequent downturn in London’s real estate market have gotten several hedge funds to take up new short positions in the U.K. real estate sector.
Marshall Wace bags profit from shorting U.K. real estate companies
One of London’s leading hedge funds, Marshall Wace, declared a negative position in British Land Company, which is among the largest property companies in the U.K. The hedge fund is shorting 0.5% of British Land Company. The company’s shares have fallen 13% since the Brexit vote.
Marshall Wace was also shorting the U.K.’s largest property company, Land Securities Group, but it covered the short position in the middle of June.
Another company on hedge funds’ hit list is Capital and Counties Properties, which has sustained a fall of 18% over a month’s time. Capco’s shares are down 35% YTD. Hedge funds like Marshall Wace, Adelphi Capital, Carlson Capital and Wellington Management Company have been pocketing profits here. Wellington Management shorted Capco earlier this year but has since covered it to below the reporting threshold set by the FCA.
After repeated cuts in asking prices over the past few months, it appears London’s property market is in for a further slash in prices. According to a report released by Societe Generale earlier this week, commercial real estate could experience a fall of 25% in prices, whereas residential properties could sustain a fall of 40% to 50% in prices. This price correction is coming after nearly three years of boom.
Homebuilders under pressure from short-sellers
Berkeley Group Holdings, which is a major homebuilder in the U.K., has also taken a hit from Brexit as its shares have fallen more than 15% since June 23. However, short interest in Berkeley Group has built up steadily from the end of last year and peaked at 5.5% in April 2016, according to disclosures made to the FCA.
Berkeley Group is a leading luxury home developer in the U.K. and has been under pressure from short-sellers due to the downturn in emerging markets. Currently 3.16% of Berkeley’s shares are held in short bets. Odey Asset Management, Adelphi Capital and BlueMountain Capital are among those betting against the residential property developer.
Cairn Homes and Bovis Homes are also taking some heat from some funds.Cairn Homes is a residential property developer in Ireland, whereas Bovis Homes is a homebuilder with business in England and Wales.
U.K. real estate services companies shorted by hedge funds
Countrywide plc is also among the victims of short interest. The property services company is being shorted by TT International, Henderson Global Investors, Insight Investment Management and SFM UK Management. Shares of Countrywide have fallen more than 26% over a 30-day period, rewarding short-sellers. The most recent call against Countrywide was placed by TT International, while others have been shorting the stock for several months now.
Rightmove plc, which is an online portal for properties, is being shorted by Marshall Wace and Schroder Investment Management. Both hedge funds took up new bets against the firm after the Brexit referendum.
The pressure in the U.K.’s real estate was also felt acutely in property investment funds managed by large asset managers. Major names like M&G Investments, Standard Life and Aviva halted redemptions in their property funds after the Brexit referendum took place. Commercial property funds in the U.K. hold more than £9 billion in assets.