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Philips scheme dismantles real estate portfolio

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NETHERLANDS - The besieged €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.

Vesteda announced last week it has bought around nearly 1100 residential rental spaces from Philips for just over €200m.

The sale followed a tender procedure earlier this month in which Philips offered a large chunk of its direct residential real estate portfolio of around 1500 housing spaces.

In its annual report for 2006, Philips' pension scheme said its direct real estate portfolio is worth around €1.34bn.

This latest news comes as a number of former officials of the fund are under investigation for fraud in relation to several real estate sell-offs, and which are said to have cost the fund tens of millions of euros. (See earlier IPE story: Philips fraud brings calls for transparency)

Moreover, two American hedge funds, Jana Partners and D.E. Shaw Group, which is partly owned by Lehman Brothers, yesterday announced they would closely scrutinise Philips' corporate structure and capital structure.

The two investors say they have direct and indirect interests in the company, which combined represent around 1.6% of Philips' share capital.

Officials at both Philips and the Philips pension fund were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

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