Aberdeen Given $3 Billion to Buy Real Estate Amid Surging Demand

Aberdeen Asset Management Plc said it is seeking to invest at least 2 billion pounds ($3 billion) in European and U.K. real estate, with more money pouring in than there are good properties to buy.

The Scottish firm, which had 9.9 billion pounds of net outflows in the last quarter mainly from emerging markets, has about 4 billion pounds in new commitments from investors with more money “potentially” in the pipeline, the company said in a statement on Thursday. About 75 percent has been won by the team that oversees property and alternative asset classes.

“The issue we have with property is the complete opposite of emerging markets,” Chief Executive Officer Martin Gilbert, 60, said in an interview. “We have got investors wanting to put money into property, but we just can’t find the properties. If you can’t sell a property at the moment in the U.K., you have got something seriously wrong.”

Aberdeen has stopped advertising its 3.6 billion-pound U.K. Property Trust, which was renamed after buying Scottish Widows Investment Partnership in 2013, because the managers can’t find the real estate to match demand. Britain’s property is seen as haven for many institutions, including sovereign wealth funds, Gilbert said.

The company, which invests more than a quarter of its funds in emerging markets, is also looking to establish a property business in Asia that directly invests in the physical assets, the CEO said. German newspaper Handelsblatt reported Wednesday that Aberdeen was looking to buy an Asian property fund as its seeks to diversify.

Aberdeen’s push into Asian property comes as Aviva Investors, which oversees about 24.5 billion pounds of real estate assets, announced plans this week to close its 159 million-pound Asia Pacific Property Fund after its two largest investors withdrew support.