Willis HQ sells for £400m

THE iconic new home of global broker Willis in the City of London has been sold in the capital's largest transaction since the start of the credit crunch.

THE iconic new home of global broker Willis in the City of London has been sold in the capital's largest transaction since the start of the credit crunch.

International property investment and development company St Martins has exchanged contracts with British Land to acquire the Willis Building, at 51 Lime Street and 25 Fenchurch Avenue, for £400 million, with the sale due to complete last this month.

Designed by architect Lord (Norman) Foster - who was also responsible for Willis's Grade I-listed office in Ipswich more than 30 years ago. - and developed by British Land, the Willis Building is located in the centre of the City, opposite the Lloyd's building.

The property totals 496,000 sq ft in two adjoining freehold buildings of 10 and 28 storeys, and includes four retail units. The offices are let in their entirety to the New York-listed Willis Group on 25 year leases from 2007 and recently became its new European headquarters.


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Tim Roberts, executive director British Land, said: “This is an exceptional building and the sale locks in attractive development profits. It also underlines our track record of delivering and letting developments profitably and allows us to recycle capital, reduce gearing and add to our war chest for future opportunities.

“As the largest transaction in the City since the onset of the credit crunch it underlines our confidence in rising investor interest for London property as value becomes more apparent.”

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Nigel Brown, managing director at St Martins, added: “The Willis building is one of the City's most iconic developments. This is a tremendous addition to our London portfolio; a trophy building offering the potential for excellent long-term returns.

“We have an appetite for landmark buildings and this was a rare opportunity to secure one of London's finest. We believe it is a great investment for St Martins, offering a guaranteed income stream and long-term value.

“It also complements the assets we are seeking to acquire in the emerging markets. We anticipate that this will be the start of a very active period for us over the next two years.”

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