The New Star International Property Fund has raised ú206 million ($415 million) from retail investors in the United Kingdom. In terms of Joe Public in the UK High Street finding investment access to Asian commercial properties (a product heÆd probably never even imagined he ought to hold), this fund represents something of a novel proxy, and an alternative to buying a Phuket timeshare.

The fund is being managed by Roger Dossett, supported by Stuart Webster and Robin Carr in Europe. New Star has had an office in Hong Kong since 2002; Simon Tyrell and a local sales team will market the fund throughout Asia Pacific.

The New Star International Property Fund will invest in commercial properties outside the UK, with the initial focus on Europe, Japan and the rest of Asia. The fund can invest up to 90% in physical property, but more typically will hold around 80%. Not more than 30% of the fund will typically be held in property company securities.

The initial charge for the fund is 5% with an annual maintenance change of 1.75%

Prices in Asia have risen dramatically across most markets in Asia, but New Star feels that on an inflation-adjusted basis they are just getting back to the levels before the Asian financial crisis and Sars. (Presumably they are crossing their fingers there wonÆt be a new plague or catastrophe.) New Star believes Asian commercial property still trades at a distinct discount to that in the United States.

New Star will focus on core and core-plus commercial properties. The less speculative end of the sector offers supply shortages in markets such as Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, says Tyrell.

Separately, Francis Leach has moved from London to Hong Kong, where he joins its institutional business development team. He will work alongside Louis Poon, who has been managing the shop in Hong Kong for several years. Leach left Hargreave Hale where he had been a stockbroker.