Qatar Investment Authority and a US
investor have approached Canary Wharf-owner Songbird Estates regarding a
possible takeover, in a move which would further boost the sovereign wealth
fund's presence in London real estate.
Songbird, which is already partially owned by QIA,
said in a statement on Thursday it would consider the approach, which it
described as at a preliminary stage.
Songbird Estates is the majority owner of London's
Canary Wharf estate, a cluster of high rise offices established some
twenty-five years ago on former docks as a new financial district. The company
is also a part owner of the landmark "Walkie Talkie" skyscraper in
the City, London's traditional business area.
"The board of Songbird will consider this
approach in light of what is in the best interests of the shareholders in the
company as a whole and in the meantime Songbird shareholders are advised to take
no action," the company said in a statement.
Shares in Songbird soared 14.5 percent to 296.6
pence, their highest level for five years, putting the value of the group at
about 2.2 billion pounds. Songbird was forced in 2010 to deny reports that
Qatar's sovereign wealth fund had made a $700 million-plus takeover approach,
which sent Songbird shares climbing at the time.
Qatar already has a significant presence in some of
London's newest and most-eye catching developments. It owns the Shard, Western
Europe's tallest skyscraper at about 310 metres (1,016 feet) and is a part
owner of a building in the Canary Wharf financial district since a deal in
A Qatari-backed plan to redevelop a central London
site next to the River Thames was also given the go-ahead in June by the
The QIA, the country's sovereign wealth fund, owns
28.6 percent of Songbird. US company Brookfield Property Partners owns,
operates and invests in office and industrial property.
The pair have until December 4 to make a firm intention
to make an offer for the company.
Songbird published bullish results earlier this
year, saying the value of its buildings and planned developments jumped by
nearly half in 2013, on sharp rises in property prices on the back of resurgent
economic growth and demand from overseas buyers.
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