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Global Banking And Finance Review

By Expert Author: Kelly Leary

In October 2012, Lucent Group announced that the Lucent Strategic Land Fund had grown in value by just over 50% since it was launched in 2010.

The market case for strategic land development is overwhelming: There are many more people wanting homes than there are homes available. This acute housing shortage in the UK means there is a high demand for "oven-ready" sites that can be developed for residential or mixed use. Official projections show the need for an additional 232,000 homes to be built in England every year just to meet current household growth. And yet in 2009 there were just 118,000 housing completions; in 2010, 102,570 completions; and in 2011, 109,020 completions. These figures have helped to create strong cross-party political support for the need to boost the house-building sector and for changes to planning laws that are designed to make the development of land easier. The constraint on the delivery of "ready-to-build" land is the single biggest hurdle to increasing housing supply.

The delivery of strategic land is what we do. Lucent focuses on the most profitable part of the land development process: acquiring sites that have been identified to come forward for residential or mixed-use development within their respective local plan but that do not yet have detailed plans or permissions. Lucent then works with its own in-house team of specialists, augmented by a select group of professional consultants, to produce sustainable "development-ready" land sites before selling them to house builders or other development companies.

The Fund was launched at a nervous time for investors, but it has now grown to a critical size with acute interest from sophisticated and institutional investors across the world. Since the Fund opened in 2010, the shares have risen in value by 50.99%. So far this year, the Fund has grown by 11.01%. In the recent investment climate, this is a remarkable achievement.

The increase in value has resulted from Lucent delivering on its strategy. We have secured 605 acres of the Lincolnshire Lakes project, which can accommodate up to 4,000 homes and commercial development in the first phase. Lucent is working with the council to create a masterplan for what will be one of the largest garden city projects in the UK, a concept of a series of villages. The masterplan will soon be going out to public consultation. We expect to be announcing further acquisitions in the south of England shortly.

The Lucent Strategic Land Fund (LSLF) operates in a structure of rigorous governance and compliance. It is a dedicated fund of KMG SICAV–SIF based in Luxembourg and regulated by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF). With a separate board of directors owing overall responsibility for approval of all investment and divestment recommendations, the LSLF has also appointed KMG Capital Markets Luxembourg S.A. to act as its global investment manager. Governance of the LSLF and the operations of two dedicated Lucent Group companies (Lucent Advisors Ltd and Lucent Global Distribution Ltd) is aided by a range of advisory firms, including BNP Paribas Real Estate, which provides the monthly valuation of the LSLF.

The Lucent Strategic Land Fund has been designed to provide well-informed investors with the opportunity to access this fundamental asset class. There is little doubt that land investment is – in a well-governed structure – one of the safest and smartest ways of investing money. The LSLF is the only open-ended investment vehicle available that focuses purely on strategic land delivery in the UK.

But it is about more than wealth creation. We also have a social responsibility to ensure the sites that we plan are sustainable and right for the people who will live and work in them. This goes to the heart of what we do and what we believe in. We help the Government and local authorities we work with deliver their ambitions for the future. I am proud to say that those who work with me have a fantastic record of delivering sustainable and desirable plans.

I hope and believe that our legacy will be sustainable and responsibly developed sites combined with exceptional returns for investors.

~ Marco Pasquale, Lucent Group UK ~

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