Lodha Group buys Macdonald House in UK for over 300 mn pounds

Lodha Group buys Macdonald House in UK for over 300 mn poundsLONDON/MUMBAI: Mumbai-based Lodha Developers Friday announced acquisition of Macdonald House in central London, which houses the Canadian High Commission, for a whopping over 300 million pounds (over Rs 3,000 crore).

“Lodha Group has exchanged contracts to acquire the landmark MacDonald House in Prime Central London from the Canadian government for a consideration of over GBP 300 million (over Rs 3,000 crore),” Lodha said in a statement.

The acquisition marks foray of Lodha Group into the UK real estate market. This is the third major asset purchase by the privately held firm in over last one year.

The company has also bought 17 acres of land in Mumbai from India’s largest realty firm DLF for Rs 2,727 crore. It also acquired Washington House property from the US government on Altamount Road in Mumbai for Rs 375 crore.

Canada’s High Commissioner to the UK, Gordon Campbell, confirmed last night that legal contracts have been exchanged for the sale of 1 Grosvenor Square for 530 million Canadian dollars. “We thank Lodha Group for their keen interest and welcome this new phase in the project,” Campbell said.

The High Commission, advised by Savills UK, said the Lodha Group will acquire the property.

“The acquisition of this marquee asset overlooking London’s most renowned garden square, in the heart of Mayfair, and in close proximity to Bond Street and Mount Street is a great opportunity for our company,” Lodha Group Managing Director Abhishek Lodha said.

Commenting on the closure of the deal, Lodha Group Deputy Managing Director Abhinandan Lodha said the company plans to focus on Mumbai and London as the two main markets.

The value of Macdonald House, if converted to residential use, is estimated at over 450 million pounds.

Lodha Group is a leading realty firm in India with net sales of over Rs 8,700 crore in 2012-13. It is developing 35 million sq ft area, with over 20 projects in Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad.

Canada had first announced its intention to sell the property in February.

It has described the move as a key step in plans to revitalize Canada House on Trafalgar Square in the heart of London and to consolidate the Canadian High Commission’s diplomatic activity in the UK in one central London location, “saving valuable operational dollars”.

“There was exceptional interest from international parties for the property on Grosvenor Square. We are looking forward to move to Canada House on Trafalgar Square, Canada’s traditional home in the United Kingdom, in the next year,” Campbell said.

“This is without doubt one of the finest addresses in central London,” Tim Whitmey, director in Savills development team, said. “It is a very proud moment for our country that an Indian company has been chosen as the purchaser by the Canadian Government after a highly competitive bidding process involving top global developers and sovereign wealth funds,” Lodha said.

Stating that Indian firms have contributed to the UK economy, he said: “we hope to continue in those footsteps by creating a significant number of jobs and providing excellent quality housing there”.

“1 Grosvenor Square is the best address in the world and we will create a world class development which befits the status of this address,” Lodha MD Abhishek Lodha said.

London has been witnessing a massive property boom this year, largely triggered by cash-rich overseas investors keen on investing in the British capital.

Estate agent Wetherell recently claimed at least 20 of the 165 diplomatic missions in London have been sold or explored for a sale in the past six months after prices in up-market embassy areas rose by up to 60 per cent since 2007.

The Canadians are following in the footsteps of their American counterparts, who sold the US embassy on Grosvenor Square in 2008. -PTI

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