Qatari Diar-backed bid outpaces Wellcome Trust and Hutchison Whampoa in race for Olympic Village

Delancey and Qatari Diar have emerged as frontrunners to buy the London Olympics Athletes Village after the games. Property Week understands that Delancey and Qatari Diar are in “intensive” discussions with the Olympic Delivery Authority for the £500m village, which will form a new residential quarter for the capital in east London.

Jamie Ritblat’s property fund manager is believed to be the ODA’s preferred choice to own, manage, and develop up to 4,000 homes in Stratford, after the London 2012 Olympics.

Delancey is backed by the property arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and is in fierce competition with Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa and £14.5bn medical foundation the Wellcome Trust.

Talks are continuing with Hutchison Whampoa, but senior government sources said Delancey and Qatari Diar were now well ahead in the race. The development is seen as the most important large-scale residential sale in decades, because it will provide its buyer the opportunity to offer private rental accommodation on an unprecedented scale.

A senior source at the Olympic Delivery Authority, which is managing the sale, suggested Delancey’s bid had outshone its rivals. This was despite hard lobbying from the Wellcome Trust, which made an audacious bid in March to buy the entire 500 acre Olympic site for around £1bn, with plans to turn it into a massive science campus.

Wellcome said last week it would withdraw this bid if the Athletes Village was not part of the sale. Property Week’s source said:

“Of the three finalists, the Qatari Diar and Delancey bid has proved the strongest, and we are now in intensive discussions with them. Theirs was the strongest all-round proposal.
It was very well thought through and structured.”

It is understood that a final announcement on the decision could be several months away and there is no period of exclusivity yet, but the ODA is “talking mainly” to Delancey and Qatari Diar. Should they win, in 2013 they will take on 1,439 flats for sale or rent, and land that could yield 2,500 further homes.

The village could be the second significant London win for Qatari Diar this year. Last Thursday revealed that it was frontrunner to redevelop the Shell Centre on the South Bank alongside Canary Wharf.