Sunday 30 April 2017

Irish property firm sells record-breaking London office and mansion for €290m to Asia's 'King of Gambling'

Number 8, St James's Square
Number 8, St James's Square
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Green Property, the Irish property company headed up by Stephen Vernon and Pat Gunne, has completed the sale of 7 and 8 St James’s Square in London for a combined total of €290m (Stg£245.9m) to Asian casino tycoon Stanley Ho’s Shun Tak Group.

The announcement today of the sale’s completion brings to an end Green Property’s ownership of a portfolio which had once been owned by a company linked to the convicted Greek fraudster Achilleas Kallakis. Green Property acquired 7 and 8 St James’s Square from AIB in November 2008 as part of the bank’s disposal of the wider Kallakis portfolio.

Kallakis, for his part, was jailed in 2013 for conspiracy to defraud AIB bank and others.

The new owner of the St James’s Square properties, the Shun Tak Group, was founded by Stanley Ho, in 1972. Now 95-years-old, Mr Ho was once known as ‘the king of gambling’ and ‘the king of Macau’ thanks to his domination over the course of several decades of the gambling market within the the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Macau, the so-called ‘Vegas of China’. 

Apart from his interests in gaming, Mr Ho who still serves as executive chairman of the Shun Tak Group, has multiple investments in tourism, shipping, finance and aviation. In 2011, he was named by Forbes magazine as Macau’s wealthiest person with an estimated net worth of $32bn (€30bn).

The price paid by the Shun Tak Group for 8, St James’s Square reflects a yield of 3.69pc and a capital value of Stg£3,245 per sq ft. The building’s tenants include Société Général, Steve Cohen’s Point72 and the Helly Nahmad Gallery.

In the case of the Helly Nahmad Gallery its decision to sign a 15-year lease in 2015, in which it agreed to pay Stg£185 per sq ft across 2,959 sq ft on the building’s sixth floor, propelled 8 St James’s Square into the headlines, with leading property industry magazine reporting it as the highest rent ever paid for an office in the UK.

Number 7 St James’s Square  is a 30,000 sq ft Edwin Lutyens-designed mansion that fronts on to St James’s Square. Since being acquired by Green Property, the building has been excavated extensively below the listed house to make way for the future construction of a pool, spa and sub-basement car park. A private courtyard garden has also been created.

Commenting on the completion of the sale of the St James’s portfolio, Green Property director Mike Tapp said: “This sale highlights the resilience of very prime London properties in a post [Brexit] referendum environment. It is a reflection of the ongoing attractiveness of the West End as a target market for long term international capital.”

Agents CBRE and Nabarro advised on the sale of the properties, while BNP Paribas Real Estate and Norton Rose Fulbright acted for the purchaser.

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