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Post event Summary

Post-event Summary
Brexit - are you prepared?

Thursday 3rd May 2018

An excellent event, arranged by AREF’s Public Affairs Committee and superbly hosted by Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner. Following a brief welcome from Justin Cornelius, partner at BCLP, the event chair, John Forbes, introduced the distinguished panel. We had the chief economist of Toscafund Asset Management, Savvas Savouri; Lord Oakeshott, co-founder and chairman of OLIM Property; Victoria Brown, head of regional management EMEA at Aberdeen Standard; Alex Bignell, head of UK at CBRE Global Investors.

Our chair kicked off the panel discussion by asking their views on where the Government is on the Brexit negotiations at the moment and then moved on to where are fund managers in dealing with the issue. The panellists were then asked for their views on the long-term effects relative to the short-term and the effects on the underlying tenant base was discussed.

Once opened for questions from delegates, Luxembourg and Dublin centres were discussed, particularly delegated authority and the required substance of presence for offices. There was a view that regulation and tax needs to be considered together by fund houses, to provide holistic solutions (watch for an article from Melville Rodrigues). Questions from the floor also involved access to passporting.

To briefly summarise the views on the day, while there was loose consent that there did not appear to be much progress in the negotiations, there were mixed views on the consequences of Brexit, whether hard or soft. Perhaps the overriding sentiment, though not completely unanimous, was the need to be prepared for the consequences of Brexit, particularly if ‘hard’, though the focus naturally varied for each panellist. For Lord Oakeshott that meant moving his fund into more defensive stock. For Victoria Brown, it meant solving distribution issues in the absence of passporting. For Alex Bignell, looking for the most cost effective solution to distribution issues and also keeping a close eye on fund and overseas investor flows. For Savvas Savouri, he is more sanguine, though acknowledged most would want to be prepared driven by caution, he is prepared to take advantage of potential investment opportunities.  
  
Greater detail of the various issues raised here will be in a paper AREF have commissioned, to be written as a follow-up to this event. This will include interviews with the four panellists, plus two further interviewees to garner a broad spectrum of views from different perspectives on the threats and opportunities for the real estate fund industry. This paper, which is proudly sponsored by Vistra, will be introduced at the AREF Summer Drinks on 21st June, to be published the following day.

AREF would like to thank all the panellists for their valuable contribution, John Forbes for his masterful chairing, BCLP for kindly hosting and all our members that attended and helped make this event such a success. One of the core aims of AREF is to bring the industry together to discuss topical issues that may challenge and/or provide opportunities for our members and investors.

We very much welcome constructive feedback and suggestions from you to help us improve these events, as well as ideas for potential events in the future, so please do contact one of the AREF team or email: info@aref.org.uk.