Hammerson revealed today that the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan had a 10% stake in the company.

The fund, which controls C$109bn (£57bn) of assets, owns 3.1% of the shares directly, and has an economic interest in a further 7% through derivative contracts.

This is one of the first instances since the downturn began of large generalist fund managers taking a big interest in a listed property company, an event many property-equity investors feel could give support to share prices.

Long term investor

Hammerson has been informed by Ontario Teachers that its holding is for long term investment purposes,’ the company told the Stock Exchange this morning, with chief executive John Richards adding: ‘We welcome Ontario Teachers, who we know well, as a long term investor. I believe we share a common philosophy towards the real estate market.’

Other recent UK property investments by Ontario include the purchase of a 48.5% stake in Birmingham Airport.

Hammerson’s two largest shareholders are Legal & General Investment Management with 4.6% and APG Investments with 4.1%. Ontario’s direct holding puts it third.

FTSE 100-listed Hammerson’s shares fell 0.4% to 1,005p, compared to a huge drop of 3.3% in the FTSE 100, driven by fears that the US Treasury plans to aid the financial markets by buying up toxic debt assets is dead in the water.