A Middle Eastern retail
conglomerate is under offer to buy Great Scotland Yard, the original home of
the Metropolitan Police in London, for a price in excess of £100 million ($145 million).
LuLu Group International is
in advanced talks to buy the Grade II listed building, which is being turned
into a five-star hotel by developer Galliard Group.
If the deal goes ahead,
Middle Eastern investors will control both of the Met’s former homes, after its
current headquarters at New Scotland Yard was sold to Abu Dhabi Financial Group
(ADFG) for £370 million in December.
LuLu Group is expected to pay
a deposit to seal the deal in the coming days. A spokesman for the company
declined to comment when contacted by Arabian Business.
The group, run by Indian
tycoon Yusuffali MA, is best known for its LuLu grocery stores but has other
operations in the Middle East spanning food processing, distribution and
manufacturing. It also owns the Al Falah Plaza shopping centres and recently
expanded into the hotel sector with a Grand Hyatt under construction in Kerala,
Great Scotland Yard was
chosen as the Met’s headquarters when the force was established in 1829. Also
known as old Scotland Yard, the property dates from 1910 and was the Met’s
headquarters until 1890. It was used as an army recruitment office in the First
World War, and was where Lord Kitchener made his famous speech telling
potential recruits, “your country needs you”.
Galliard bought a 125-year
lease on the property in 2013 and plans to convert it into a 235-room hotel. LuLu Group is
expected to bring in an operating partner to run the hotel when it is completed
Agency Gerard Nolan and Partners are advising on the deal. They are
understood to have been in talks with LuLu Group for more than a year, although
last September Malmaison hotel group was reportedly in negotiations to buy the
property for up to £200 million. The UK’s Crown
Estate still owns the freehold.
Meanwhile New Scotland Yard,
a Brutalist office block known to many in the police simply as ‘The Yard’, has
been home to the Met since 1967 but was put up for sale last year part of a
cost-cutting plan that will see the Met relocate to new headquarters on nearby
Victoria Embankment. ADFI purchased the building in December for a reported
£370 million ($539 million).
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