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The Economist: "Safe as office blocks"

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"THE first concrete signs of post-Brexit financial stress in Britain emerged this week. The asset-management arm of Standard Life, an insurer, suspended redemptions from its £2.9 billion ($3.8 billion) British property fund. It was followed by a flurry of rivals: Aviva, Canada Life, Columbia Threadneedle, Henderson and M&G. Another fund, run by Aberdeen, said it would apply a 17% discount to redemptions.

"... Mike Prew of Jefferies, an investment bank, has been predicting a commercial-property downturn since last year. Two areas stand out. Central London has been on a building spree, with 26m square feet of offices currently being added (or refurbished) in a market with around 200m square feet of space. Mr Prew thinks 100,000 jobs in London are at risk of moving to the EU—enough to free up 10m square feet. Office rents could fall by as much as 18% in central London, he warns.

"The second problem area is retail premises, to which the Standard Life fund was heavily exposed (its five biggest tenants were all retailers). High-street shops have been squeezed by the rise of the internet; BHS, a department-store chain, recently went under. If the economy does slow in the wake of the referendum, retailers' troubles will intensify."

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