Stephen Vernon’s Green Property has made a dramatic return to UK property, buying three central London properties from Achilleas Kallakis’s Pacific Group
Vernon, who is one of the best-known names in UK and Irish development, has exchanged contracts with Pacific to buy the Telegraph newspaper group’s headquarters on Buckingham Palace Road in Victoria, and 7-8 St James’s Square in Westminster.
Pacific bought the Telegraph building at 111 Buckingham Palace Road from the Barclay brothers in August 2007 for around £220m, and 7-8 St James’s Square from Hermes Real Estate in November 2007 for £120m.
The purchase price paid by Green Property is not clear but both assets’ values would have fallen from the £300m-plus that Kallakis, who is nicknamed ‘the Don’ for his renowned poker playing abilities, paid for the two sites at the top of the market.
It is thought that Pacific’s banking partner, Allied Irish Bank, is still involved in providing finance to Green Property, backing Vernon, who has a strong reputation for counter-cyclical investment and effective asset management.
In April, Green Property finance director Mark Munro said the company would seek to add to its portfolio in England and Ireland.
Pacific Group has sold the assets on behalf of its billionaire Swiss backers in a move away from UK property.
It is thought the purchase has been made through an Isle of Man-registered special-purpose vehicle.
It is believed the sale of the Telegraph headquarters and 7-8 St James’s Square are the first of a larger sale of assets from Pacific’s UK portfolio, but a decision has not yet been made on the sale of the other properties.
Other assets in the Pacific portfolio are Astral Towers in Crawley, Sussex, where it has been planning a 250,000 sq ft office development; Apollo House and Lunar House in Croydon, south London, where it is drawing up plans for a 3.3m sq ft scheme that will feature a 59-storey residential tower; and the 220,000 sq ft Market Towers in south London’s Vauxhall.
Pacific will now focus on investing £700m in community-based developments in Singapore, Malaysia and China under the codename Project Eastern Ridge.
The group is understood to consider it advantageous to invest in community projects in the Far East that could stimulate other business opportunities, such as infrastructure works.