We Said These Deals Would Tell Us If The U.K. Was OK Post-Brexit. Did They Get Done?
In June, one year on from Brexit, Bisnow outlined seven transactions that, if completed, would indicate the U.K. market was not suffering as much of a Brexit hangover as had been feared.
So did the deals get done? Time to check back in.
£1.3B Walkie Talkie sale - done deal
The market was waiting to see if the price per square foot would eclipse that paid for the Cheesegrater. It did not, but the record capital value for a U.K. office building from a debut investor indicated the continued strength of Asian interest for prime London assets.
2. Gherkin sale - not done
The Gherkin was never really, truly for sale, so it is not quite right to call it a deal that did not happen, but the expectation was that a bid would come in for the Gherkin that was so high the owners, the Safra family, would simply have to sell. It has not yet materialised.
3. RBS and Premier Place - nearly done
Premier Place, an office building in the City of London, is being sold vacant by Royal Bank of Scotland, offering a glimpse beyond the trophy market. Canadian pension fund Ivanhoé Cambridge is close to buying the building for the asking price of £145M, highlighting large global institutions' continued appetite for assets with a high level of risk in London.
4. St. Katherine Docks - sale cancelled
Blackstone sought offers of £435M for St. Katherine Docks, an asset on the edge of the City. Not super prime but without the opportunistic angle of something like Premier Place, the offering was a hard one for buyers to get their heads around. When bids fell short of the asking price, Blackstone opted to refinance the asset instead.
5. Creechurch Place - starting to lease up
As of June this year the newly developed 271K SF Creechuch Place in the City had lain empty for six months, unable to find a tenant. In July Hyperion Insurance Group went under offer to take 100K SF and other tenants have also agreed to terms, highlighting how in spite of Brexit worries, City space continues to lease up.
6. £1B Network Rail sale - still coming down the tracks?
Earlier this year Network Rail began the process of a £1B sale of more than 5,000 properties in railway arches in London and the South East. The sale was seen as a litmus test of the appetite of investors for exposure to the U.K. economy, with the tenant base made up of thousands of small businesses. The sale was delayed until after the June General Election and is still yet to be launched, though whether that is through government inertia or worries about the worsening economy is unclear.
7. New Covent Garden Market resi sale - done deal
It was a palaver, but it got done. The £470M sale of New Covent Garden, with planning for 1,821 flats, was a test of appetite for prime central London residential development, especially in the Nine Elms area. Dalian Wanda was forced to drop the deal due to regulatory pressure, but another Asian buyer, R&F Properties, was there in the background to complete the deal.