Secretive Middle Eastern investor emerges as £285m Lacon London buyer

By James Buckley - Thursday, September 07, 2017 15:23

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Clandestine Middle Eastern investor Al Ain Properties has emerged as the mystery buyer behind the £285m acquisition of Lacon London in Midtown, CoStar News can reveal.

Blackstone Real Estate Partners Europe III announced last week that it had sold Lacon London at 84 Theobalds’s Road, WC1 to an undisclosed private investor for £285m, or £1,315 per sq ft.

Al Ain, a United Arab Emirates-based investor and developer, has built a portfolio of residential, office, industrial and hotel assets predominantly across the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as well as the region of Al Ain since its inception in 2005. The company lists its Middle Eastern property portfolio on its website but is more secretive about its UK acquisitions.

Al Ain bought Regis House at 45 King William Street, EC4 last year from Aberdeen for £105m, financed in part by a five-year senior loan from National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

Blackstone has been reviewing its London office portfolio as it nears the completion of significant repositionings. Last month CoStar News revealed that UK retail bank Metro Bank was set to become the last tenant to take space in Blackstone’s 20 Old Bailey office development in the City of London, taking the remaining 60,000 sq ft, as the US private equity giant prepares the building for a £300m sale. Blackstone has started proceedings to sell the asset, which it bought in 2013 prior to an extensive refurbishment.

Other assets which Blackstone owns in London are The Adelphi in the West End and Cannon Bridge House in the City, neither of which are currently earmarked for sale, the recently fully let River Building, Alban Gate, 125 London Wall, 125 Old Broad Street and Devonshire Square, all in the City. Separately, Blackstone is in the process of trying to sell St Katherine Docks for £435m.

Blackstone bought the 220,885 sq ft Lacon London in July 2013 and following lease expiry of the sole office tenant in 2014, undertook a comprehensive refurbishment and repositioning of the building.

The refurbishment was designed by Sheppard Robson and Morey Smith and involved upgrading the property to a modern Grade A specification throughout including remodelling of the reception and the addition of a roof terrace with panoramic views across London. Blackstone signed a range of tenants from the creative, TMT, automotive and legal sectors including Arriva and Exterion Media.

Blackstone was advised by Savills and JLL, and the purchaser was advised by CBRE and Dentons.

All parties declined to comment.  

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