More than 50 of the property industry’s leading figures gathered at the London Stock Exchange this morning to celebrate the official launch of the UK REIT

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, was treated to a round of applause from those present after kicking off the third official day of trading in REITs by pressing the stock exchange button.

In a brief speech made after the opening of the markets, Peace paid tribute to the efforts of fellow campaigners and lobbyists, who battled to achieve REITs legislation over the years and wished all REIT constituents good fortune in the future.

Chris Gibson-Smith, chairman of the London Stock Exchange and new chairman of British Land, echoed Peace’s best wishes to the industry and urged the young REIT community to make the most of the advantages offered by the regime.

The celebrations coincided with the launch of the FTSE EPRA/NAREIT UK REIT index this morning. It will measure the performance of the nine pioneering constituents of the UK REIT - British Land, Brixton, Great Portland Estates, Hammerson, Land Securities, Liberty International, Slough Estates, Workspace Group and Primary Health Properties.

It is hoped that the index will enable investors to differentiate the performance of REIT companies from non-REIT constituents within the EPRA/NAREIT universe and help investors compare REITs according to country-specific REIT legislation.

Mark Makepeace, chief executive of the FTSE Group, said: 'FTSE is committed to offering investors a complete suite of index products to measure and analyse all facets of the investment landscape, and the launch of FTSE EPRA/NAREIT UK REIT index ensures we continue to provide investors with the tools for diversification that real estate offers.

'The arrival of UK REITs on new year’s day marks an important milestone for property investment in Britain.'