08 January 2005 – ireland.com
An Irish developer is to become Marks & Spencer’s landlord in London following a €200 million property deal.
The Irish Times confirmed yesterday that developer, Mr David Arnold, has bought the British chain store’s London headquarters in the Paddington area of the city for an estimated £140 million (€200.5 million).
A partnership of Australian developers, Multiplex and British property investors, Mr Simon and Mr David Reuben, sold the building to Mr Arnold. All the parties involved are bound by a confidentiality agreement.
It was not known last night if Mr Arnold was acting with other parties. Sources said the purchase would have been made purely as an investment.
Mr Arnold is an active investor in the UK, but his business is mainly focused on the Republic’s commercial property market and on Dublin in particular.
He owns a number of office buildings in the centre of the city. He was also involved in an apartment complex near Tara Street railway station. He is an investor in the Central Park commercial development in Leopardstown in south Dublin, along with the Mr Richard Barrett and Mr Johnny Ronan-controlled Treasury Holdings.
Central Park’s other backer is Quinlan Private, the firm owned by Mr Derek Quinlan, who has done a number of high-profile deals in Britain and Europe over the last year, namely the Savoy hotel group in London. Mr Quinlan is known to have expressed an interest in buying Chelsfield, the property group that ended up in the hands of Multiplex and the Reuben brothers after a drawn-out bidding process last autumn.
Multiplex, which already controlled 7 per cent of the group, and the Reubens, who had 34 per cent of the company, joined forces and bought out the other shareholders in a deal valuing the company at almost €3 billion.
Mr Quinlan became interested in Chelsfield after bidding for Wentworth, a high-profile golf club in Surrey. Chelsfield and a British businessman, Mr Richard Caring, now own the club.
Multiplex and the Reubens have begun selling properties since joining forces in Chelsfield late last year. The sale of the Marks & Spencer building in London is one of a number of disposals they have made.
Record investment in commercial property in the British capital has helped ensure they are getting prices above their properties’ book value.
The Australian builder and the brothers are now planning a €2.5 billion marina development on Gibraltar. Architect Mr Norman Foster designed the facility, which includes two hotels, a cruise liner terminal and 500 berths.
They are currently negotiating with the Gibraltar government, which favours the development, through a jointly held vehicle MCB Gibraltar. The project was part of the Chelsfield deal.