Songbird is in talks to build Walkie Talkie

Marion Dakers
SONGBIRD, the property company that owns most of Canary Wharf, has confirmed it is in talks with Land Securities to resurrect the abandoned Walkie Talkie project on Fenchurch Street .

“We are in advanced discussions about a 50-50 joint venture, and we are expecting a decision in the near term,” Songbird secretary John Garwood told City A.M. yesterday.

The 36-storey skyscraper will cost an estimated £300m to build and, if Songbird and its subsidiary Canary Wharf Group sign up, will be the group’s second project in the City.

“Drapers Gardens was a good template for us,” Garwood said of Songbird’s 20 per cent stake in the project, which generated an initial yield of 5.2 per cent when it was sold to Evans Randall in August. “It established a calling card for us, as it’s the first time we’ve built outside Canary Wharf, and it showed we had the capacity.”

The firm said it expects JP Morgan to decide whether to stay in Canary Wharf in the next few months.

Songbird also announced a £140m share issue yesterday, in order to refinance a £135m loan facility from Commerzbank.

Its half-year results showed that the value of Songbird’s net assets rose 2.1 per cent to £1.22bn, while underlying pre-tax profit in the six months to June to £13.1m, from fell from £89.7m last year.

Songbird’s Aim-listed shares closed down 3.5 per cent at 152p.