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Long stop and commercial property: the week in news

Long stop and commercial property: the week in news

It's been the will-they, won't-they saga of the week: will Italy have a government? Will this bring down the world economy in the process? Like with so much going on in the world at the moment, we can only wonder as we continue to hoard tins in our nuclear bunkers.

On a more upbeat note, the World Cup is nearly here and England are almost certain to do well...Oh...Anyway, here's the week in news.

1) Commercial property is the bomb

What do fund managers worry about in the depth of the night? It turns out it might be business rate reform.

According to a fund manager who runs over £2bn of commercial property assets, the government must reform the British business rates system or risk "killing" a huge part of the UK commercial property market.

The pleasingly-named Marcus Phayre-Mudge, who runs the £1.5bn TR Property investment trust for BMO, said the area of the market he believed would be hit by the changes to business rates was property let out to retailers.

He said the challenges faced by those companies from the rise of internet shopping has been made worse by the government’s changes to the business rates rules.

2) What a wind up

Speed was definitely of the essence this week when Fast Pensions found itself closed down in the High Court.

The company, which acted as sponsoring employer for 15 retirement schemes, was closed down alongside five other firms associated with it after they were found to have “been used to abuse millions of pounds of people’s savings”, according to the Insolvency Service.

The other four companies were entities into which some of the pension scheme funds invested, including Blu Debt Management, Blu Financial Services, Blu Personal Finance, and Umbrella Loans.

Investigations found a total of at least £21m was invested into the schemes through tactics such as cold-calling.

The exact value could not be determined because the companies failed to produce adequate accounting records and did not cooperate fully with the investigation, the service said.

3) Keeping up Standards

Advisers know where they stand with Standard Life Aberdeen after it set out plans to push much further into the direct-to-consumer market after it sells off its insurance arm.

The provider has agreed to sell its insurance arm to Phoenix Group in a £3.2bn deal but will keep hold of its three adviser platforms - Wrap, Elevate and Parmenion - and 1825, its restricted financial advice business.

In a circular published this week to its shareholders, Standard Life Aberdeen has set out how it plans to position itself after the deal goes ahead.

Because of the growing importance of Standard Life Aberdeen's retail channel, the company said it will continue to invest in this, including developing more comprehensive direct-to-customer service for the non-advised market in partnership with leading retail brands.

As part of the Phoenix deal, Standard Life Aberdeen also revealed this week it would return £1.75bn to its shareholders because the money was "surplus" due to proceeds from the transaction and lower capital requirements once Standard Life Aberdeen has sold the business.