London’s landmark “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper has been sold for £1.3bn to Hong Kong investors in a record-breaking transaction for a single building in the UK.
The building at 20 Fenchurch Street has been bought by Hong Kong-based Lee Kum Kee, a sauces and condiments group best known for its oyster sauce, becoming the latest trophy London building to be snapped up by capital from China and Hong Kong.
Landsec, the UK real estate investment trust which owned 50 per cent of the building, said it had exchanged contracts with LKK Health Products Group Limited – a division of the broader Lee Kum Kee Group – which would also buy the remaining 50 per cent stake controlled by Canary Wharf Group.
Landsec said it would return £475m to shareholders through a special dividend and share consolidation.
Robert Noel, Landsec chief executive, said: “Our decision to sell 20 Fenchurch Street at an exceptional price and return cash to shareholders reflects our disciplined approach to the use of capital.
“The building has been an immensely successful project for Landsec and our partners.”
The sale follows that of the “Cheesegrater” skyscraper, or Leadenhall Building, which like the Walkie Talkie was constructed after the financial crisis. The Cheesegrater was sold to another Chinese-owned firm, CC Land, in May for £1.15bn.
James Beckham, head of London capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield, which advised LKK, said: “Since the vote to leave the EU, capital targeting London from the Asia-Pacific region has increased to record levels. This is partly due to currency fluctuations but is more indicative of longer-term confidence in London and investment strategies which are not derailed by short-term political uncertainty.
“As Asian economies mature, investors there are deploying capital more broadly and London’s real estate continues to be seen as the number one destination.”
The Walkie-Talkie skyscraper is not entirely without a historical connection to cooking, either: in 2013, sunlight reflected from its concave windows baked a car, which suffered more than £1,000 worth of coachwork damage, including a melted wing-mirror.
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