NETHERLANDS - The €4bn Dutch pension fund of Unilever, known as Progress, has strongly denied it intends to sell off its direct real estate holdings.

A spokesman for the fund today criticised media reports, arguing the fund would sell off its portfolio of direct real estate following a review of its entire real estate portfolio, as being untrue.

He told IPE the fund continuously reviews its various portfolios, and in that light started a review of its real estate holdings 18 months ago.

"No decisions have been made, and we do not expect to make any in the near future," he told IPE.

According to Unilever's annual results for 2006, the fund had around €551m invested in real estate, 9% of which in offices, 23% in retail and 68% in housing.

Today, the fund's website even advertises a new housing project in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, which will be finished by next year.

Unilever is one of the last Dutch funds to hold onto their direct real estate exposure.

IPE reported earlier this week the beleaguered €14.6bn pension scheme of Dutch electronics major Philips has sold around 15% of its real estate holdings to Dutch real estate investment fund Vesteda, in a move to dismantle its direct real estate portfolio. (See earlier IPE story: Philips dismantles real estate portfolio)

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