Canadians buy landmark City site for £265m

Kasmira Jefford
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CANADA’S second largest pension fund has teamed up with private equity firm TPG to buy a landmark office building in the City for £265m.

Ivanhoé Cambridge, the property investment arm of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, said yesterday it has jointly bought the Woolgate Exchange in Moorgate as it steps up its investment in the London office market.

The firm has now spent more than £400m in the capital over the past year after snapping up two residential buildings in Kensington and Belgravia in December.

The Woolgate Exchange, which is close to the Bank of England, was put up for sale a year ago after its owner, clients of the property Irish investment manager D2 Private, defaulted on £270m of loans.

Malaysian sovereign wealth fund PNB was close to buying the building in April last year but talks collapsed at the eleventh hour.

In November, TPG bought the junior debt secured against Woolgate from Irish Bank Resolution and Ivanhoe has now come in and provided the majority of the equity to take control of the asset.

The 350,000 square feet building is let to Portigon, the German bank formerly known as WestLB, and sub-tenants including Investec Asset Management, Sidley Austin and the University of Chicago.

Ivanhoe, which holds more than £18.9bn worth of assets in 24 countries, joins several overseas firms lured by the UK capital’s safe haven status against an uncertain economic environment.

“This investment is perfectly in line with our strategic positioning in London,” Daniel Fournier, Ivanhoé chairman and chief executive said.

“We are convinced that it will generate attractive returns for our depositors,” he added.