Private property investor David Pearl said today he was interested in bidding for Shaftesbury, the quoted West End property specialist, which owns large parts of London’s Chinatown

‘I am looking at Shaftesbury. It fits in perfectly,’ he said. He bought £1m of shares in Shaftesbury a month ago. However, he qualified his remarks by stressing that raising the necessary finance might be an issue: ‘I’d need about a billion pounds to buy them,’ he said.

Pearl was speaking at a fundraising lunch organised by the Jewish charity UJIA and attended by a range of people from the property industry. He told his audience that his one reservation about Shaftesbury was that all of its assets were in central London, which could make it vulnerable to the consequences of a terrorist attack.

Pearl previously took over quoted property company Newport Holdings for £42m in October 2003. ‘It was one of our best deals,’ he said.

Pearl is one of the UK’s richest private property investors. He set up the agency Pearl & Coutts in 1965 and Structadene, his property vehicle, in 1978. He said today his group had an annual income of £100m and borrowings of £1.3bn.

Shaftesbury’s property assets were valued at £1.2bn in its accounts for the year to 30 September 2006.

James Burchell, chief executive of Faircroft Properties, is the chairman of the business division of UJIA.