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Monday, May 19, 2008

Kuwait in talks to buy British Land building

LONDON: British Land Co plc is in talks to sell the Willis Building in London to the Kuwait Investment Authority for as much as STG400 million (STG1 = RM6.34), the Financial Times reported at the weekend.

A sale of the landmark Foster & Partners-designed office building opposite Lloyd's of London would be one of the biggest property deals since the start of the credit crunch and is likely to be welcomed by British Land's shareholders.

The newspaper said talks were at a "late-stage" and the deal was being carried out by St Martins, the property arm of the Kuwait sovereign wealth fund.

British Land was not available for immediate comment.

The last big deal in the UK was the sale of control of the ExCeL London conference and exhibition centre to state-owned Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Co for more than US$600 million (US$1 = RM3.27) earlier this month.

Buying and selling of British commercial property has slumped due to the credit crunch, which has slashed 17 per cent off average capital values as debt dependent property investors have vanished, leaving the field open to cash rich players such as German open ended funds and Middle Eastern investors.

British Land is expected to show significant falls in net asset value due to the downturn in the property market when it reports full-year results on Wednesday.

The Willis Building was given a price of STG360 million in British Land's 2007 results and despite falls in the wider market, its value is seen as broadly the same yesterday, the Financial Times said.

By Reuters

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