THE Gherkin skyscraper, which has dominated London’s skyline for the last decade, has been placed into receivership in a move aimed at removing uncertainty over its ownership.
The 41-storey office block, officially known as 30 St Mary Axe, was sold to IVG Immobilien for a record £600m prior to the financial crisis in 2007 but the German property business has been mired in a debt crisis since then.
Business advisory firm Deloitte, which was yesterday named as receiver, said its appointment by senior lenders followed ongoing defaults lasting five years.
Deloitte partner Neville Kahn said: “The Gherkin is a truly exceptional building, a landmark recognised around the globe.
“Our priority is to preserve the value of this asset. We are in the process of communicating with all tenants and working with the property manager to ensure the continuation of all property management services with no interruption to tenants.”
Mr Khan said the building has been well leased since the initial default in 2009 and remains in “trophy” condition. He added that interest rate and currency movements caused the total senior liabilities secured by the property to increase materially.
The Gherkin was designed for reinsurer Swiss Re by Lord Norman Foster, the architect behind the new Wembley Stadium and the Millennium Bridge in London. The building is still the headquarters of Swiss Re, which sold the property to IVG three years after it opened.
The German property firm last month agreed a debt for equity swap with creditors in a bid to tackle 3.2bn euros (£2.6bn) of outstanding loans.
The building stands on the former site of the Baltic Exchange, the headquarters of a global marketplace for ship sales and shipping information. On April 10, 1992, the Provisional IRA detonated a bomb close to the exchange, causing extensive damage to the historic building and its neighbouring structures.
Initial plans for the 1,266ft Millennium Tower to replace the exchange were withdrawn due to objections of its size before the revised proposals for the smaller building were accepted.
The current building was dubbed the Gherkin as far back as 1999, referring to its highly unorthodox layout and appearance.