Great Portland swoops on two London offices

Kasmira Jefford
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GREAT Portland Estates unveiled plans yesterday to expand into London’s West End by buying two properties for more than £250m.

The London property developer has agreed to buy a 2.3-acre site near Oxford Street from the Royal Mail Group for £120m in cash – its largest deal to-date.

Royal Mail will lease back the site until June 2013, then vacate it to allow Great Portland begin work on redeveloping it into a mix of shops, apartments and offices.

Meanwhile, Great Portland Estates and the BP Pension Fund have agreed to buy the London headquarters of British broadcaster ITN News in a deal valued at £133m.

The Great Ropemaker Partnership, a 50:50 joint venture, said it has acquired 200 and 214 Gray’s Inn Road from an arm of Beacon Capital Partners, a Boston-based real-estate investment company.

The 246,500 square feet property, houses ITV’s Carlton Communications as well as ITN News and generates a combined annual rent of £8.42m.

Both the Royal Mail site and the Gray’s Inn road block are set to benefit from an uplift in property values after the opening of the Crossrail link in 2018, Toby Courtauld, Great Portland’s chief executive said.

“Its redevelopment will accelerate the regeneration of the East End of Oxford Street, one of London’s most exciting submarkets, which is set to benefit significantly from the opening of Crossrail,” he said.

Farringdon, home to the Gray’s Inn property, will also be one of the London districts that benefits most from the Crossrail east-west train link and the Thameslink project.

In May, the company was also given the green light to redevelop Hanover Square in Mayfair into 205,400 square feet of office space, retail units and residential apartments, as part of the Crossrail scheme.

Shares in Great Portland Estates fell 1.65 per cent yesterday to close at 350.8p.