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Tue 11 Nov 2008 12:16 AM

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Qatari Diar eyes full control of Chelsea Barracks project

State-owned property firm moves in on $1bn 12.8-acre landmark London development.

Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. is set to take full control of one of Britain's most ambitious redevelopment projects at Chelsea Barracks in west London, after agreeing to buy out partner CPC Group.The property arm of the State of Qatar said in a statement it had negotiated an option to acquire CPC's equity holding in Project Blue (Guernsey) Holdings Ltd, the vehicle set up to acquire and develop the 12.8 acre landmark site.

The former military barracks was bought by Qatari Diar and entrepreneur Christian Candy's CPC Group in January for 959 million pounds ($1.51 billion) in one of Britain's biggest-ever development site purchases.

The deal reflects Qatari Diar's increasing interest in Britain's crisis-hit real estate market and comes shortly after the opening of its London headquarters in Mayfair's Grosvenor Street.

"The... increase in our involvement in the redevelopment of the Chelsea Barracks site are expressions of our deep commitment to the UK real estate market and should not be interpreted as dissatisfaction with our business relationships on the project," said Ghanim bin Saad Al-Saad, CEO of Qatari Diar.

"We remain pleased with the evolution of our relationship with the Candys' businesses, which have helped us expand our presence in this very important market, and we remain committed to their role in the redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks."

Candy & Candy, the property development group run by Christian Candy and brother Nick, will continue to lead the planning management, interior design, branding and marketing of the Chelsea Barracks site.

In a separate deal, Qatari Diar has also acquired CPC's equity interest in Project Red (Guernsey) Holdings Ltd, the joint venture formed by the two companies to acquire the Grosvenor Waterside development site, also in central London.

Financial details on both deals were kept confidential. (Reuters)

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