Commercial property investors in UK say no to Brexit -survey

LONDON, March 7 Fri Mar 7, 2014 7:27am EST

LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) - The bulk of investors in Britain's 53 billion pound ($90 billion) commercial property market are opposed to the country leaving the European Union as it could force business tenants to re-evaluate their British presence, according to a survey.

Over 60 percent of 387 investors - including some of the largest sovereign wealth funds and insurers across Europe and North America - surveyed by property consultant CBRE Group said leaving the EU would make Britain a less attractive place to buy commercial property.

"The UK outside the EU would potentially clearly lose some of the benefits and advantages of being part of the EU free trade bloc," said Peter Damesick, chairman of CBRE's European research team.

He said investors were worried that an exit could lead international businesses to re-evalaute how much of their European activity they wanted to retain in Britain, the region's largest property investment market.

"Ultimately that's going to feed through to the strengthened diversity of property demand in the UK commercial property market and on that basis that would be a concern to investors," he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to renegotiate the terms of Britain's membership of the 28-country EU bloc and hold an "in-out" referendum if he is re-elected in 2015, stoking concerns that the country could exit the group.

Many banks and money managers in London's financial district have been growing more uncomfortable as the debate rolls on.

Britain's commercial property market, which saw 53 billion pounds worth of deals agreed last year, is highly international with about half of sales made to foreign buyers.

For the remaining respondents, 33 percent said it would make no difference while 4 percent said it would make the UK more attractive.

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