Canary Wharf owner Songbird in asset boost

 
City A.M. Reporter
Songbird Estates, majority owner of London's Canary Wharf, booked a six per cent rise in net asset value as demand for offices across the estate held firm against the government's feeble economic outlook.

The company, which counts the Qatar Investment Authority and China Investment Corp. among its largest shareholders, said the market value of its investment portfolio rose to £4.8bn in the half-year to the end of June, reflecting adjusted NAV of 178 pence a share.

Songbird has also proposed a fully underwritten, £140m open offer of new ordinary shares to finance the repurchase of a £135m shareholder loan taken out at its £1bn corporate refinancing a year ago.

Shares will be offered at 128 pence, representing a 19 percent discount to the closing price on Wednesday.

Proceeds from the offer will also pay the accrued dividend on preference shares and generate additional working capital likely to be used in fresh investment and development joint venture plans in and outside Canary Wharf.

"The board believes the open offer announced today further simplifies the capital structure by the elimination of debt and places the company on a secure financial footing going forward," the company statement said.

Songbird subsidiary Canary Wharf Group is in advanced talks to develop an office skyscraper in London's City business district in a joint venture with the largest real estate company Land Securities

The results follow the latest rumble of speculation that U.S. bank JPMorgan may be forced to axe costly plans to develop a bespoke European headquarters at Canary Wharf amid fears of a possible backlash from banking regulators.

Industry sources suggest the plans for the Riverside South complex are now seen as incompatible with the new age of austerity, and the bank could be willing to rent new premises instead.

Canary Wharf Group said infrastructure works on the site were completed during the period and it expected a final decision from JPMorgan 'in the next few months.'