Hammerson close to retail specialist aim after £518m sale of London offices

THE Anglo-French property developer Hammerson is selling the bulk of its London office portfolio to Brookfield Office Properties for £518m ($812m), it was confirmed yesterday.

The move is in line with Hammerson’s strategy of becoming a specialist retail property company.

The company, which announced plans to sell its London offices earlier this year, said its remaining portfolio would be 97 per cent retail following completion of the deal.

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Hammerson said it expects to receive a payment of £329m for 99 Bishopsgate, Principal Place and two smaller properties by September 30.

The sale of the other buildings, 125 Old Broad Street and Leadenhall Court, will complete by June 2013 for £189m, the company said yesterday.

The total proceeds of £518m are five per cent above proforma book value.

“We have been able to achieve our goal of becoming a pure retail business earlier than anticipated by arranging a single transaction for the majority of our London offices,” chief executive David Atkins said yesterday.

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“At this point in the cycle we can reinvest successfully to increase scale in our three chosen areas of prime shopping centres, convenient retail parks and premium designer outlets,” Mr Atkins add- ed.

Sheffield city centre was to have been transformed by Hammerson’s Sevenstone retail regeneration scheme.

However, Hammerson has put the project on ice due to the downturn. It has since submitted revised planning applica- tions.

The company can trace its roots back to 1942 when Lewis Hammerson set up a company to invest in real estate, which converted houses into apartments.

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The first partnership with a local authority was established in the 1960s, when it was involved in the re-development of Bradford city centre’s retail quarter.

Hammerson also moved into Australia, New Zealand and the US as part of its strategy for expansion.