Sunday 20 October 2019 2:14 pm

Property tycoon Nick Candy courts Saudis over Capco takeover bid

Property magnate Nick Candy is said to be in talks with a Saudi investment fund over a potential takeover bid for Capital & Counties (Capco), the owner of Earls Court and Covent Garden.

Candy, who developed the One Hyde Park complex with his brother Christian, has held early-stage discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund about a joint bid for Capco, the Sunday Times reported.

Read more: Capco demerges Covent Garden and Earls Court businesses

Capco, which is led by Ian Hawksworth, has announced plans to demerge its Covent Garden businesses from the Earls Court development, which has been hampered by a long-running dispute with the local council.

The property company has suffered a huge writedown on the value of its development scheme at Earls Court, while Hammersmith & Fulham council is mulling a compulsory purchase order amid concerns about Capco’s ability to manage the project.

The site, which has been earmarked for thousands of new luxury homes, is now worth just £412m, down from a valuation of £759m last year.

Shares in Capco have almost halved since their high in 2015, and the row has also cost Capco its investment chief Gary Yardley, who stepped down in June.

In September Capco said it had put its demerger plans on hold while it explored a potential sale of the Earls Court site. Canary Wharf Group is said to be in talks about a takeover, while Here East and Olympic Village owner Delancey is also thought to be circling.

A sale would allow Capco to refocus its efforts on its 1.2m square feet property portfolio in Covent Garden. The holdings, which include Apple’s store and Balthazar restaurant, are valued at more than £2.6bn.

Read more: Capco investment boss to quit as Earls Court demerger speculation mounts

The billionaire Candy brothers made their name through a series of high-profile developments, including the Qatari-backed luxury flats at One Hyde Park.

The brothers have since cut ties as business partners and Nick has begun to pump money into tech-focused startups.

Capco said it did not comment on market speculation. Candy and the PIF have been contacted for comment.

Main image credit: Getty