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O'Connor-backed group offloads UK offices for €90m

A PROPERTY group backed by former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Donal O'Connor and the Fyffes McCann family has offloaded a prime London office block to the South Korean sovereign wealth fund, Korea Investment Corporation, for around €90m, representing a major profit for the investors.

The building, which is at Bartholomew Lane in London, was developed as part of a €160m joint venture between Cornerstone capital (now Ardstone) and Blackrock International, the listed property firm spun out of banana company Fyffes during the boom.

The McCann family are major shareholders in Blackrock International, which was renamed Balmoral. Cornerstone and Blackrock signed a joint venture deal in 2007 to buy and renovate three buildings in the centre of London. Anglo Irish Bank's Asset finance wing lent €26m for one of the buildings.

O'Connor is a small shareholder in the joint venture, although a number of wealthy Irish investors also hold a stake in the group.

The sale of the prime office block by the Irish owners is the latest in a series of deals which have seen well-known Irish investors exit the UK market as buyers from Asia, northern Europe and the Middle East seek trophy assets.

David Daly sold the Louis Vuitton building on Bond Street to French billionaire Bernard Arnault for around €350m before Christmas, with Lochlann Quinn putting the Prada building on the market last year. The Cosgrave Group also put over €200m worth of Oxford Street shops and buildings up for sale.

Ardstone is raising a €250m fund from institutional backers to invest in property deals in areas such as the UK, Germany and Belgium.

Sunday Indo Business