JANE SLADE visits Sweden to see how two farmers and a tax inspector have hit on a winning formula by investing in property there
Until Wallander, The Bridge, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Sweden’s greatest exports were Bjorn Borg, Abba, Volvo and Sven Goran Erikson.
The farmers, Nigel Evans and Bill Ridge (pictured right) clubbed together with Huw Evans to form the property investment company Evanridge back in 2006 and have since built up a framework of Swedish contacts and advisors to accrue an investment portfolio worth over £35 million.
Returns have been so favourable (12 per cent per annum), during some of the toughest economic conditions, that the group has created its own investment programmes so they can offer other UK investors a slice of the action. Up until now most of its investors have, like them, been farmers. “They are notoriously cynical, sceptical and cautious,” says Nigel Evans. “But you don’t need to be a farmer to be an investor.”
Evanridge now has two profitable investment programmes and is currently seeking investors for a third, providing an opportunity for those with a pension cash lump sum.
Sweden’s attraction is that it offers a strong, stable economy, which has resisted much of the economic downturn and is now recovering faster than most developed countries. Its national debt is under 40 per cent of GDP, compared to 74 per cent in the US and almost 90 per cent in the UK.
Some 46 per cent of the Swedish population lives in rented apartments or flats compared to 21 per cent in the UK. Combine this with a well-regulated rental system, plus an ongoing shortfall of rental properties in many regions, and Sweden offers a steady rental income and attractive rental yields.
Peter, 59 and Sue Taylor, 60 (pictured below) farm 300 acres of arable land in Whitchurch, Shropshire and are semi retired. Seven years ago they invested £130,000 with Evanridge and are now looking at a return of some £200,000.
“The investment ticked all the boxes for us,” said Peter.
“We liked the idea of a managed property investment. We did our research and liked the guys; they know what they are doing.
“They are also investors themselves which gave us added confidence. We felt it was not a high-risk investment. We liked the fact that the investment is in sterling and everything is very transparent. We’ve made four trips out to Sweden to visit the properties and have really enjoyed our visits as we get to meet other investors; we will be investing in the next portfolio.”
The Evanridge founders travelled all over the world looking for a new investment opportunity suitable for individuals, corporate organisations, self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs) and small self-administered schemes.
They found it in Sweden and have structured it as a share issue for a Swedish public limited company, which both purchases and manages the properties – a mixture of residential and commercial in the towns surrounding Sweden’s second city Gothenburg.
Evanridge’s latest acquisition is two blocks totalling 152 student flats in Trollhättan, the quirky birthplace of the now defunct Swedish car manufacturer Saab, and home to a prestigious film studio and walk of fame featuring Nicole Kidman.
The minimum investment required for Evanridge’s third programme is £50,000 and the target return assumes a seven-year investment. However there is a staged exit strategy, with potential to return capital to investors over three years. There is also an annual management charge of one per cent of gross property value. The investment is expected to return a minimum of 12 per cent per annum net of fees and expenses.
Typically, Evanridge attracts investors who have been disappointed with poor returns on offer from pensions, annuities and other savings schemes and are attracted to the tangible nature of the Evanridge property programme, meaning customers can visit, touch and see their investment.
For more information visit: www.evanridge.co.uk