By Tom Bill
LONDON Jan 29 British Land will work
closely with private equity group Blackstone as it
attempts to sell its half stake in London office and retail
complex Broadgate, a deal that could net the U.S. fund a
sevenfold return in four years.
Blackstone bought its half share of the 30-acre site in
London's financial district from British Land in September 2009
for 77 million pounds ($120.9 million), a stake worth 520.5
million pounds after debt according to British Land's 2012
"One can always look back and say 'if I knew then what I
know now', but we sold at the time to give us financial
flexibility," British Land Chief Executive Chris Grigg told
Reuters after a trading update on Tuesday.
"It enabled us to rebalance the London portfolio between the
City and the West End (districts of London) and press ahead with
developments that will bring in substantial profits. I am very
comfortable with the decision."
It is the first time British Land has publicly acknowledged
Blackstone is planning to sell out of the developer's biggest
holding, a move revealed by Reuters in September 2011.
The Broadgate development, which is adjacent to Liverpool
Street train station, was built between 1984 and 2008 and could
attract interest from Oxford Properties, the property arm of
Canada's Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System and
Norway's sovereign wealth fund, property experts said.
Broadgate tenants include Swiss bank UBS, which is
planning a 340 million pound London headquarters despite
concerns it will struggle to fill the 700,000 building that
includes several trading floors after recent deep job cuts.