After a year of extraordinary highs and lows, Property Week recaps the key events as they happened.
Lloyds Banking Group offloads 84 bank branches in sale-and-leaseback deals to boost its balance sheet ahead of its return to full private ownership. London & Regional spends £600m on the Hilton Metropole hotels in London and Birmingham.
HMV announces plans to exit its iconic Oxford Street store, bringing an end to its 96-year association with the property. Hong Kong billionaire Samuel Tak Lee increases his shareholding in Shaftesbury from 3% to 16% post EU referendum, sparking rumours of a takeover bid. Snapchat announces plans to triple its presence in London after agreeing terms on 20,000 sq ft of space on Shaftesbury Avenue.
The Shard developer Irvine Sellar passes away. HS2 clears its final hurdle when the £50bn project receives royal assent. British Land and Oxford Properties exchange contracts on the sale of the Leadenhall Building – aka the Cheesegrater – to CC Land for £1.15bn. Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management declare their intention to merge to create a £11bn funding powerhouse. Oxford Properties makes its first foray into build-to-rent.
Housing association Peabody reveals plans to develop 1m sq ft of commercial space as part of the £4bn-plus Thamesmead Waterfront scheme. Commercial investor CLS Holdings agrees to sell its 1.5m sq ft mixed-use scheme Vauxhall Square to Chinese developer R&F Properties for £155.7m.
At the Property Awards, Derwent wins developer of the year, Grainger snaps up the property company crown and Gerald Ronson CBE and Sir George Iacobescu CBE are inducted into the Property Week Hall of Fame. Theresa May calls a snap general election. BNP Paribas carries out due diligence ahead of its purchase of Strutt & Parker. The Silvertown Partnership announces plans to build a 300,000 sq ft ‘e-sports’ hub at its Royal Docks scheme.
Cluttons is bought out of administration and undertakes a major restructure. Blackstone puts its St Katharine Docks scheme near Tower Bridge, London, up for sale for £435m. Oaktree Capital Management and Patrizia Immobilien consider selling their UK business park portfolio. A2Dominion Group wins large developer and Urban Splash goes home with the small developer prize at Property Week’s RESI Awards.Independent proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services backs calls to vote against the pay deals of all executive directors at JLL. JP Morgan acquires 200 Capital Dock, in Dublin, in one of the first significant overseas deals by a UK-based bank worried about the impact Brexit will have on its ability to trade.
Chinese sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation emerges as the front runner to buy Logicor from Blackstone. Retail and leisure landlords review security measures following a terrorist attack at London Bridge and a bomb at Manchester Arena. Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election backfires, with an unexpected surge in votes for Labour creating a hung parliament. A terrifying fire rips through the Grenfell Tower block in north Kensington killing scores of people. Property Week discovers the cost of making the nation’s social housing blocks safe could cost £12bn. Brookfield Property Partners appoints Morgan Stanley and CBRE to sell its IDI Gazeley logistics business for around £2bn.
Prestbury Investments’ Nick Leslau takes top spot in Property Week’s inaugural Power 100 list. Amazon announces plans to develop its own 2.2m sq ft shed in Bristol. Woking Borough Council snaps up Dukes Court in Woking from Aerium for a price tag of around £70m – just one of a number of property investment deals completed by local authorities this year. Paul Brundage takes over as the new president of the British Property Federation. John Lewis starts exploring the idea of co-working or serviced office space in stores. BNP Paribas Real Estate’s takeover of Strutt & Parker goes through. Landsec and Canary Wharf Group sell their 50% stakes in the Walkie-Talkie to LKK Health Products Group for £1.28bn.
Kingston upon Thames council snaps up two local office buildings for £42.5m. Countrywide decides to keep its commercial arm Lambert Smith Hampton following a strategic review. US satellite telecoms start-up OneWeb announces plans to open its first London office at the WestWorks building. In a radical step, M&M Asset Management and LaSalle Investment Management propose demolishing parts of shopping centres under their management in the face of high vacancy rates. Serviced office provider Regus snaps up rival workspace operator Basepoint Business Centres for a rumoured £100m. Aviva Investors acquires an Amazon-let fulfilment centre in Bolton at a yield of just 4.4%. Dalian Wanda pulls out of a deal to buy the £470m Nine Elms Square development after the Chinese government starts to scrutinise the overseas investment activity of domestic companies.
The Government Property Unit selects the 300,000 sq ft Atlantic Square development in Glasgow as part of its national relocation plan. Lendlease closes in on a £1bn funding deal with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to finance the launch of a new build-to-rent platform. BNP PRE chief executive John Slade announces he is leaving the company with “almost immediate effect” after overseeing the acquisition of Strutt & Parker. Edinburgh comes top of Property Week’s list of the UK’s best places to live. Warrington Borough Council splashes out £200m on Birchwood Park business park, which sits in its jurisdiction. Ian and Richard Livingstone’s London & Regional Properties is selected as preferred bidder for the Albert Island site in London Docklands, a project expected to have a development value of £1bn. Newly formed industrial developer First Panattoni unveils plans for an aggressive programme of spec development in the UK. Property Week hosts its first-ever hackathon at the RESI event in Wales. Pharmaceutical companies launch requirements totalling more than 400,000 sq ft for office space along the M4 science and technology corridor.
EasyCoffee seeks funding to fuel its plans to open 200 shops across the UK. The hotels market heats up after two major deals complete in two days – Aprirose’s purchase of the QHotels business from Bain Capital Credit and Canyon Partners for £525m and Henderson Park’s deal to buy the Metropole hotels in London and Birmingham from Tonstate Group for £500m.
PwC announces plans to move all staff out of its 150,000 sq ft office at Hay’s Galleria near London Bridge station next year as it consolidates its presence in London. Network Rail launches the first tranche of a series of disposals of land suitable for commercial and residential development. The Bank of Montreal launches a search for a new, larger London headquarters in the Square Mile. South African investment firm Stenprop announces plans to reposition its £804m European real estate portfolio to focus solely on multi-let industrial estates in the UK.
Aviva Investors announces plans to launch its first REIT, which will be focused on the booming long-income sector. One of the UK’s largest care home operators, Runwood Homes, is put up for sale for a price believed to be around £350m. Schroder Real Estate prepares to launch a real estate debt fund with seed capital of about £100m.
Four of the biggest retirement housing developers mount a legal challenge against the mayor of London’s new planning guidance on affordable housing. Associated British Ports launches a £3.5bn property arm tasked with delivering development land around its port holdings. HM Land Registry data shows that companies registered in ‘tax havens’ own more than 87,500 properties in England and Wales. Industrial developer Logistics Capital Partners closes in on £1.3bn of backing from a North American investment house to give it a development war chest. Aviva’s historic headquarters building in Norwich goes on the market for £150m.
Joint venture partners Hill Commercial Investments and Russell Smith Farms put forward proposals for a new £500m agritech business park in Cambridge. London mayor Sadiq Khan outlines plans to double housebuilding delivery in the capital by helping councils unlock small development sites and removing restrictions on the number of houses that can be built on each site, as part of the London Plan. The government reveals it intends to restore train links lost in the 1960s and 1970s to help kickstart the development of thousands of homes. WeWork reveals plans to double the size of its UK business in 2018 and then double it again in 2019. Hammerson announces the £3.4bn takeover of Intu and just a week later, Unibail-Rodamco’s reveals it is to acquire Westfield for a cool £18.5bn.