NATIONAL Australia Bank, which has spent two years winding down and ­withdrawing from £5.6 billion of commercial ­property lending to UK businesses, has bought a London asset manager with £4bn invested in UK commercial property.

The Melbourne-based bank has been trying to sell its Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks for several years, and has been accused by SMEs in Scotland and Yorkshire of making a damaging exit from property-backed ­lending since it took control of the UK Commercial Real Estate (CRE) portfolio from the UK subsidiaries in 2012.

But its wealth management division has now acquired a 75 per cent stake in London-based Orchard Street Investment Management, which has £4bn of UK commercial property assets under discretionary management for institutional clients, over half of it in retail property investments.

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Garry Mulcahy, executive general manager at NAB Asset Management, said: "The partnership is consistent with our strategy of identifying and partnering with the best investment talent from around the world to deliver for our clients.

"We have been looking for an opportunity to provide clients with access to this asset class."

The move comes less than three months after NAB sold a £625m parcel of loans from the UK CRE portfolio to New York-based private equity group Cerberus. That reduced the outstanding balance to £2.38bn. NAB already has stakes in 12 investment boutiques with assets totally £100m.