Exec reveals how Brookfield, Qatar conquered Canary Wharf

Jessica Morris
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How Brookfield and the QIA won the wharf (Source: Getty)

Brookfield Property Partners' chief executive has lifted the lid on the three-month long battle for Canary Wharf, which culminated in the largest UK property deal for a decade.

Canada's Brookfield and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the state's sovereign wealth fund, first launched their £2.6bn bid for the estate's owner, Songbird, in November. But if it was be successful, the pair would need to get one of Songbird's three major shareholders on board. This meant they needed the China Investment Corporation, Morgan Stanley or New York billionaire Simon Glick.

"Going into this, we knew China Investment Corporation and Morgan Stanley would be sellers. Simon Glick was a bit of an unknown," Ric Clark, chief executive of Brookfield, told the Wall Street Journal.

Clark said Brookfield already had existing relationships with China Investment Corporation and Morgan Stanley, and that the asset manager "didn’t waste opportunities to bring up Canary Wharf when we saw them".

So when it came to making the somewhat audacious bid, Clark said "we knew at the right price, they'd both exit".

QIA and Brookfield originally tabled a bid of 295 pence per share for Songbird, valuing it at around £2.2bn. But this was rejected by the board, with chairman David Pritchard saying it "significantly undervalued" the business.

At the time, sources told City AM the company would only consider a deal "upwards of 400 pence per share".

The pair upped their offer to 350 pence per share, or £2.6bn on 4 December, just before the takeover deadline.

Songbird's board held out until February, when they finally caved in after its three largest shareholders - Glick, China Investment Corporation and Morgan Stanley - all said they'd accept the 350 pence per share offer.

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