Denmark’s EUR 405bn pension market slams new speculation ban

Denmark’s plan to rein in short-term property speculators has backfired as the country’s pension industry rips into the proposal.

Michael Nellemann Pedersen, chief investment officer at PKA Pension | Photo: Gregers Tycho/ERH

A plan that was initially intended to target Blackstone Group Inc. has ended up uniting Denmark’s investment community, after Housing Minister Kaare Dybvad proposed placing a 10-year moratorium on rent hikes tied to renovations. Local pension funds, which had set their sights on real estate to boost returns amid negative rates, say the law would choke investments.

“This proposal is a step back,” said Michael Nellemann Pedersen, chief investment officer at PKA Pension. PFA, Denmark’s biggest commercial pension fund with about EUR 90bn in assets, says the government’s plan hits the wrong target.

“This is the equivalent of making it illegal to ride a bicycle just because someone else ran a red light,” Michael Bruhn, head of real estate at PFA in Copenhagen, said in an interview. “We acknowledge that there are some actors in this business who’re rotten apples,” he said. But,“We’re being punished because others haven’t been able to behave properly.”

Other pension funds criticized the plan in private, but declined to comment for his article, as talks around the proposal continue.

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