A noble venture

Two former Aberdeen executives are launching a range of property funds for private investors.

Alan Howie and Andy Speedie, the two former directors of Aberdeen Property Investors who last month joined Edinburgh-based Noble Fund Management, are to launch four syndicated property funds over the next year. Each fund will be valued at between £10 million and £30 million, and will contain a single building requiring active management. The funds will give individual investors a chance to get involved in more lucrative property investments than most retail funds give them access to.

Howie explains, “Each fund will be like an opportunity fund on the scale of individual properties. It'll give private investors access to the type of investments they'd otherwise not see.” And he believes it won't just be investors who stand to benefit from access to new types of assets: he hopes that by selecting investments at the level of the individual building, the funds will be able to access opportunities that larger players are missing.

The funds will take the form of limited partnerships and will have a life of five-to-seven years. Although they will have a minimum investment of £50,000, Noble is also setting up a unit trust to act as a feeder fund, allowing investors to get involved with as little as £5,000. The firm is hoping to achieve annual returns of 8 percent to 10 percent.

The two executives are also hoping to follow these funds up with a larger opportunity fund. “In 18 months time, once we've got a track record here at Noble, we're hoping to launch a fund that will contain a number of the same sort of property assets to spread the risks,” says Howie.

His enthusiasm for his new role is immediately clear. He explains that after fifteen years with Aberdeen he was ready for a new challenge – and to run a fund based on his own strategy. “It was effectively a new start – a clean sheet of paper, a chance to build something the way we wanted. At large investment houses you have to run a pre-ordained strategy; but successful property investors are the entrepreneurs who can change a building around somehow.”

In their previous roles, Howie was a senior fund manager at Abderdeen Property Investors, while Speedie was finance director.