By Tom Bill
LONDON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - 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 annual report.
“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.