Starwood Capital gives London's Heron Tower $463 mln lifeline

Mon Oct 7, 2013 3:27am EDT

LONDON Oct 7 (Reuters) - U.S. private equity group Starwood Capital has provided a 288 million pound ($463 million) refinancing facility to London's Heron Tower, saving the 46-storey skyscraper from the threat of receivership and a possible sale.

Bank lenders to the tower, which has struggled to fill up its floors amid London's weak office lettings market, had been frustrated by its owners inability to agree on a refinancing of a 315 million pound loan despite several months of negotiations.

Starwood European Real Estate Finance, a listed Starwood Capital business, said on Monday it had provided an 18 million pound participation in the 5-year facility, with Starwood Property Trust providing the remainder.

The Heron Tower is owned by a trust that includes developer Heron International, helmed by property entrepreneur Gerald Ronson, Oman's largest sovereign wealth fund and Saudi investors.

A source familiar with the situation said the shareholders had agreed to inject 100 million pounds on top of the Starwood refinancing, which meant that the tower did not need to be sold to repay its debts to banks which included Wells Fargo and Landesbank Hessen-Thuringen.

A deal had been needed because the Heron Tower, close to Liverpool Street railway station in the City financial district, has not let as quickly as planned with 41 percent of office space still unoccupied since it opned in 2011.

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