A property company backed by Italy’s best-known business dynasty is to redevelop a key segment of the London waterfront.
Almacantar, which is supported by the Agnelli family, has completed a deal to invest in the Shell Centre redevelopment in Waterloo. The company is headed by Mike Hussey, the former head of Land Securities’ London portfolio. It has agreed to buy two office buildings that will form part of a 1.45 million sq ft scheme yards from the London Eye.
Almacantar will pay £550 million for the buildings — one of which is pre-let to Shell and another that will be developed speculatively. The properties will be built by Braeburn Estates, a joint venture between Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar, the property division of the Qatari Investment Authority.
The Shell campus is considered to be one of the capital’s last big development sites and more than 20 consortiums approached the oil company.
Braeburn agreed to pay Shell £300 million for a 999-year lease and the right to redevelop the 5.5-acre site. It has won consent to develop two office and six residential buildings around the 27-storey Shell Centre tower, which was built 50 years ago and will remain owned and occupied by Shell.
The acquisition is being financed by Cain Hoy, an American private investment company that was linked to a takeover bid for Tottenham Hotspur FC last year.
The deal between Almacantar and Braeburn took time to complete partly because of planning delays and also because Canary Wharf Group was taken over by the Qatar Investment Authority and Brookfield Group, of Canada, during the negotiations
Analysts said that now the transaction had completed it would help to propel the redevelopment of the Shell Centre, a project that will alter the skyline and fortunes of the South Bank.
Jules Hind, a partner at Union Street Partners, said: “The biggest single factor that has held back Waterloo as a business location is planning bureaucracy.
“There is huge potential for rental growth. We are seeing office rents topping £70 per sq ft at London Bridge, and Waterloo can exceed that due to its greater proximity to the West End.”
One Southbank Place will be the new headquarters for Shell International’s downstream business and is fully pre-let to Shell on a 20-year lease. Almacantar will be responsible for marketing and leasing the second building.
Mr Hussey said: “We feel that the area around Waterloo station has the potential to grow into one of the best mixed-use destinations in London and we are excited to be working with Shell and Braeburn in overseeing the transformation of the area.”
Almacantar invests on behalf the Agnelli family, as well as other institutions. Since it was set up five years ago it has amassed more than £1 billion of property and is developing sites including the Centre Point tower on Tottenham Court Road, and Marble Arch Tower in the West End.
Ben Burston, the head of UK offices research at JLL, said: “Office rents across the West End are now rising rapidly, due to London’s surging employment growth and an acute lack of available supply, and this is resulting in the expansion of the market to previously overlooked locations.”