Henderson Global Investors has launched a new $1.1 billion fund targeting the U.S. apartment market, saying it was the best-placed property sector for rent growth and occupancy over the next five years.

CASA V is the fifth in Henderson's CASA Partners U.S. Multi-Family Housing series of funds, which use low-cost, tax-exempt bond financing, Henderson said on Friday.

The fund manager is targeting an initial equity raise of $100 million by end-2010, and a total of $400 million. It will target properties with 200-plus units in suburban and urban areas with strong economic trends.

Apartments are anticipated to have the most favorable occupancy and rent growth conditions of all asset classes, Henderson said in a statement, adding it was the best-placed property sector over the next five years.

It believes newly acquired, unleveraged apartments can offer net total returns of 7-9 percent over a five-year horizon, adding it expects tax-exempt bond financing to provide the lowest-cost means of financing apartment investments.

For tax-exempt bond financed apartment properties, total return expectations are for annual returns of 11-13 percent (net) over the next five years, it said in a statement.

Apartments have historically proven less volatile than other property sectors, and core apartments are likely to offer attractive total returns with a strong income component.

(Reporting by Andrew Macdonald; Editing by Mike Nesbit)