Sovereign wealth funds are circling for Brexit deals: Expert

How Brexit impacted the sovereign wealth fund universe
How Brexit impacted the sovereign wealth fund universe

Global sovereign wealth funds are waiting to pounce on bargains instead of paring stakes in the U.K. following the Brexit vote, a senior industry expert said Friday.

"Sovereign wealth funds are patient capital. They have a long term investment horizon," Michael Maduell, president of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday.

"When everyone is freaking out about the pound sterling going to a 31-year low, wealth funds can come in and tactically purchase assets and tactically place bids on companies."

In the wake of the U.K.'s referendum vote to exit the European Union (EU), the pound has plunged to its lowest levels since 1985 and a leadership vacuum has emerged in the wake of the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron.

A rush of fund outflows from the U.K. has spurred several property funds -- including those run by Standard Life, Aviva, M&G, Columbia Threadneedle and Henderson -- to suspend redemptions as investors clamored to yank their money.

In addition to short-term market gyrations, a possible exit from the EU will also have long-term consequences.

Brexit may have put London's status as a major financial center at risk as an exit from the EU would likely cost it its ability to trade freely with the continent.

"These are the opportunities that cash rich wealth funds can take advantage of," Maduell said. "They can jump on real estate when it goes too far down."

Maduell noted that a number of sovereign wealth funds, including Singapore's Temasek, Malaysia's Khazanah and the Kuwait investment office, already had offices in London.

Brexit may also be a factor in a slowdown in deals by sovereign wealth funds, Maduell said.

"Investors are waiting to find those opportunities. Maybe they can get a better deal if they wait a few months longer," he said.

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That's somewhat borne out by Temasek's results briefing held on Thursday.

Temasek's head of strategy Michael Buchanan said at the briefing that while there were immediate downside risks for markets following the Brexit vote, there may be investment opportunities as well.

But while Temasek has an office in London, it's actual exposure to the U.K. was very low and was primarily through Standard Chartered Bank, which while listed in the U.K., has little in the way of operations there.

The Brexit vote could also change Temasek's investment plans ahead. While it had no plan to shutter its office in London, which it opened in 2014, as it expected the city would remain a financial center, it noted that it may consider opening an office elsewhere in Europe as well.