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Alan Sugar swoops for City’s Threepenny Bit

By James Buckley - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 15:51

Main news image
Alan Sugar has swooped in to buy the Threepenny Bit development by St Paul’s Cathedral from St Martins, CoStar News can reveal.

Lord Sugar’s Amsprop will pay around £20m for the building at 5 Cheapside, EC2, in a deal which represents one of the highest relative vacant possession values for any property in the City in recent years.

The business magnate and star of The Apprentice was not the highest bidder for the City development, but bid aggressively enough to put the building under offer this afternoon.

US firm Tishman Speyer and a hotel joint venture both made it to the final round of bidding, but were informed this week that they had been unsuccessful.

Amsprop is Sugar’s privately owned real estate vehicle, which has been building a property portfolio since 1985, with a focus on ultra-prime central London and core City of London freehold properties.

Kuwaiti property company St Martins instructed Savills to sell 5 Cheapside in February. The 35,000 sq ft building has since attracted 50 viewings and around 15 bids, which have been submitted by the likes of PRUPIM and Allied London.

US giant Apple was also rumoured to have considered 5 Cheapside for a quirky City store, attracted by the building’s octagonal shape.

The Threepenny Bit was mooted for a seven-storey 110,000 sq ft John McAslan & Partners-designed scheme, although a redevelopment is now unlikely, with refurbishment thought to be the favoured option for the new owner.

5 Cheapside is the final building to be sold from St Martins’ £900m Project Blue portfolio. Other properties in the sell-off included several offices spread across the UK. In London, these included West 45 in Hammersmith, W6, and Gateway and Oriel Houses, both in Richmond, Surrey.

Five shopping centres, including Centrale in Croydon and Kings Mall, W6, and three retail parks in Rugby, Warwickshire, Chelmsford, Essex and Folkestone, Kent - were also included, alongside a number of industrial estates.

All parties declined to comment.

jbuckley@costar.co.uk