Investments 

Parking investment claims FCA approved investor terms

Parking investment claims FCA approved investor terms

A company offering car parking investment schemes has been criticised over the operation of a scheme to return money to investors after intervention by the Financial Conduct Authority.

But Park First Limited has defended itself by saying the details of this scheme were signed off by the FCA after it took action.

Park First Limited, and its related entities, promoted and operated airport car parking investment schemes but were not authorised by the FCA and not permitted to provide regulated financial services.

The FCA took the view it operated collective investment schemes, which can be a high-risk investment, and the company agreed to stop operating and promoting the original schemes.

It is now offering investors in the Glasgow and Gatwick car parks the choice of getting their initial investment back or moving into a new lifetime leaseback scheme.

But one investor contacted FTAdviser to say it would not be possible to get their money back until at least 12 months after ownership of the space completes transfer back to Park First.

The company will also keep money from the first two years' rental and charge annual ground rent until the refund is paid.

In response, Park First said: "To be clear at the outset, the approach that Park First is taking has been agreed with the FCA as an appropriate approach.

"This approach has been set out in a detailed communication to Park First's investors, which the FCA has seen and approved.

"Park First has been transparent on all of these matters and the FCA has been satisfied both as to the overall approach and that Park First's communications have been clear, fair and not misleading."

A spokesman added that the "vast majority" of investors had not raised concerns.

He added: "It is the case that investors who would like to take up the buy back option will receive their repayment between six and 12 months from taking up the offer.

"Park First was asked to take this approach by the FCA, specifically, that it should not make repayments within the first six months. Moreover, we believe that this is an appropriate and responsible approach in order to manage the restructuring process."

The spokesman added that Park First and the FCA were satisfied the compensation offered was "appropriate and fair" and investors who take up the buy back will receive back the full value of their original investment taking into account rental income paid.

He added: "There is no intention on Park First's part to make the process difficult for any investors, whether they opt for the Lifetime Lease of Buy Back."

The lifetime leaseback pays a rental income for the full period, providing a fixed yield of 2 per cent a year but this is not a collective investment scheme and therefore is not regulated by the FCA.

The FCA did not respond to a request for a comment.

damian.fantato@ft.com

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