Almacantar buys Shell Centre offices on South Bank for £550m

Kasmira Jefford
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Centre Point owner Almacantar has bought part of Canary Wharf Group and Qatari Diar’s controversial Shell Centre scheme on London’s South Bank, which faced opposition last year for obstructing views of the Houses of Parliament.

The developer, which owns other landmark buildings including CAA House in the West End, has spent over £550m buying One and Two Southbank Place in Waterloo, marking one of the largest deals undertaken in the South Bank’s history.

One Southbank Place is already pre-let to Shell and will provide headquarters for the oil giant’s downstream business when completed in 2018. The second office site is being built speculatively but is expected to fetch rents of over £60 per sq ft.

The 572,616 sq ft office sites form part of Canary Wharf and Qatari Diar’s joint venture Braeburn Estates’ wider 1.5m sq ft Southbank Place redevelopment.

The Shell Centre’s existing 27-storey tower will remain but other parts of the complex will be demolished and replaced with 877 new homes, 800,000 sq ft of offices and 80,000 sq ft of shops across eight new buildings – the tallest of which is 37 storeys.

Almacantar has been under offer to buy the buildings for more than a year after a lengthy legal appeal process put the sale on ice.

English Heritage, Westminster Council and local activist George Turner went to the high court to try to stop the scheme. Even Unesco warned that the development could threaten Westminster Palace’s status as a World Heritage Site.

However Eric Pickles, the former communities secretary overruled their objections, arguing that the scheme will “provide accessible jobs and homes, and enhance the character of the South Bank area”.

Almacantar’s chief executive Mike Hussey said: “One and Two Southbank Place is a worthyaddition to our portfolio of high quality assets. We feel that the area around Waterloo Station has the potential to grow into one of the best mixed use destinations in London and we are excited to be working with Shell and Braeburn in overseeing the transformation of the area.”

The developer, which is backed by high profile investors including Italy’s Agnelli family, said the acquisition is being financed through a loan facility from Cain Hoy, the US investment group that last year eyed a bid for Tottenham Hotspur football club.