The pound’s 20 percent drop in the past year made Britain the first choice when Schroders Plc started buying real estate in Europe last month.
“Weaker sterling makes U.K. property more attractive,” said Neil Turner, the Wiesbaden, Germany-based executive in charge of the money manager’s new 300 million-euro ($403 million) property fund. “The U.K. property market is a screaming buy compared to rivals in continental Europe.”
While the Bank of England said it expects a “protracted” economic recovery in the U.K., where unemployment is the highest since Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour Party came to power in 1997, investors from Millennium Asset Management to Mellon Capital Management Corp. are betting the pound’s decline is coming to an end.
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Strategists at New York-based Citigroup Inc. said in a report last week the pound is “among the most undervalued major currencies,” trading almost 15 percent below “fair value” versus the dollar. Barclays Plc predicts it will rise as much as 18 percent against the dollar and 11 percent versus the euro in the coming year. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sees a 23 percent gain versus the dollar and 15 percent advance against the euro.
Money is already pouring into Britain. Currency flows into the pound from pension funds, insurers and other institutional investors in the 60 days to May 13 were more than 99 percent higher than any comparable period since 1997, according to Boston-based State Street Global Markets LLC, the world’s second-largest custodian of financial assets, with $11.3 trillion.