Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Church Bells Ring out News of Investment Success

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Church Bells Ring out News of Investment Success

Article excerpt


LAST year's resurrection of world equity markets and the prolonged rise in UK property values has made the Church of England's multibillion pound investment fund one of the best of its kind over the past decade.

The Church's balanced fund rose in value by [pounds sterling]400 million to [pounds sterling]3.9 billion in 2003, three-quarters of the increase coming from the rocketing value of its investments in stocks and shares, profiting in particular from Far East stock market bounces and massive stakes in big banks.

Church Estates Commissioner Andreas Whittam Smith said: "These results show the benefits of long-term investing in a broad range of asset classes as well as exploiting opportunities within them. The Commissioners' property holdings have been a big contributor."

Its most valuable property assets include nearly 2000 homes in its Hyde Park Estate, many overlooking the Royal park, a number of properties lining trendy King's Road in Chelsea and Millbank House, a Grade II Edwardian house refurbished into seven floors of offices and let to the House of Lords.

It also owns 1590 flats and cottages in central London, known as the Octavia Hill Estates and spread between Waterloo, Pimlico, Vauxhall, Walworth, Stoke Newington and Maida Vale.

The long-term property investments, nearly 30% of the fund's overall value, helped its average total return, including capital gain and income, up to 10.2% over the past 10 years.

This compares with 6.4% for 300 other similarly diversified funds, Church Commissioners claimed in their 2003 annual report, citing data from giant US fund manager State Street's WM Co performance measurement unit.

In the past five years, half of which would have been at a time of falling stock markets, the fund also outperformed with a 5.2% average total return against 1. …

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