Qatar in London ‘mega landlord’ property venture

Qatari Diar in deal over 4,000 homes; to convert US embassy into hotel

PHOTO: The joint venture will manage residential properties in the former Olympic village in East London. Credit: East Village

Qatar is increasing its exposure to the London property market with a deal to become part of a $2 billion home-rental venture, as well as plans to convert the US embassy into a luxury hotel.

Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company, part of the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund, plans to enter a joint venture to manage 4,000 homes in the UK capital – forming what is described as a ‘mega landlord’.

It has entered into an equal partnership with Dutch pension fund APG Asset Management and the UK developer Delancey, according to a statement by the latter company.

The venture will manage residential properties in the former Olympic village in East London and the Elephant and Castle Town Centre redevelopment in the South of the UK capital.

Of the 4,000 homes, approximately 1,500 are built and substantially let, 1,000 are under construction, and the remaining 1,500 have “detailed planning consent with early construction starts expected”.

All of the homes will be managed and leased through Get Living London, the partnership’s existing management and letting platform, according to the Delancey statement.

“The partnership’s ambition is to become the leading player in the delivery of professionally managed homes in London and other major UK cities over the next few years,” the statement said, adding that the merger is conditional upon regulatory approval.

Sheikh Jassim Al-Thani, Chief Development Officer for Europe and the Americas at Qatari Diar, said in the statement that the deal has a broader aim of increasing housing stock in “affordable” locations in the UK.

“This merger between two leading London private rented sector schemes is the first step in what is a much larger endeavour: to significantly increase the supply of new homes in connected and affordable locations in British cities,” he said.

“This ambition lies at the heart of Qatari Diar’s vision to create vibrant, sustainable local communities where people aspire to live, work and visit. We are delighted to have forged this important partnership, which we are confident will play a leading and very positive role in the future of the UK’s residential investment sector.”

Qatari Diar and Delancey are currently developing 2,818 homes on the former site of the London Olympic Games, Bloomberg reported. APG and Delancey are undertaking the project at Elephant and Castle, initially comprising 374 homes and 272 student housing units, the news service reported.

In another move it emerged that Qatari Diar has called in British architect David Chipperfield to draw up redevelopment plans for the US embassy in London, which is set to be converted into a luxury hotel.

The so-called “fortress” embassy will be transformed into a 137-bedroom five-star hotel as part of a £1 billion ($1.4m) restoration of Grosvenor Square, according to the Evening Standard.

The US embassy staff are moving to the Nine Elms district next year.

Qatar already owns several landmark buildings in London including The Shard skyscraper – the city’s tallest – the Park Lane Hotel, along with the luxury department store Harrods and co-ownership of the Canary Wharf financial district.

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