Two of London's most famous streets are now part-owned by Norway's sovereign wealth fund after it paid £343m to snap up a share in an estate covering four acres of the capital's West End.
Savile Row, the Mayfair street renowned for its men's tailors and for hosting the Beatles' final live performance at the former Apple offices, and the gallery-studded Cork Street are part of the Pollen Estate in which Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) has bought a 57.8% stake. The fund, which is the world's biggest sovereign wealth fund and invests government money from the oil industry, already has investments in a neighbouring Regent Street portfolio.
The share in the Pollen Estate was bought from the Church Commissioners for England, which also sold a 6.4% share to the Crown Estate, raising a total of £381m, making it the largest ever property sale by the group. It said more than 990 parties had received the sale brochure and 86 interested parties including banks, pension funds and charitable foundations had toured the estate.
"As we expected, the depth and calibre of international interest in the estate was impressive, with a range of buyers showing a strong interest in the commissioners' majority holding," said Joseph Cannon, chief surveyor of the Church Commissioners for England. "We are very pleased to have sold to Norges Bank Investment Management and the Crown Estate who see the long-term value of the estate."
NBIM's investment follows a similar venture into prime London real estate in 2010. It owns 25% of the Regent Street portfolio, with the Crown Estate owning the majority share.
The Pollen Estate dates back to 1622 when William Maddox bought 35 acres of undeveloped land for £1,450. Since then it has been passed down through the Pollen family and shrunk, so that it is now made up of 43 retail and office buildings between Regent Street and Bond Street. The area includes some of London's most upmarket shopping streets,
David Shaw, head of the Regent Street Portfolio said: "Savile Row and Cork Street have international reputations for their focus on tailoring and art galleries respectively and the success of these two streets is crucial to the ongoing success of London's West End as an international destination."
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