INTERNATIONAL: Safra Shells Out $1B for The Gherkin in London
- Nov 18, 2014
By Ioana Neamt, Associate Editor
The Safra Group, an international network of companies led by Brazilian billionaire Joseph Safra has bought 30 St. Mary Axe in London, also known as The Gherkin due to its unusual shape.
The Sao Paulo-based company paid roughly $1.2 billion for the iconic property, according to Bloomberg. The Gherkin was put up for sale earlier this year after the previous owners, IVG Immobilien AG and Evans Randall Ltd. failed to make loan repayments.
Designed by Norman Foster and Arup Group and constructed by Skanska, the 590-foot, 41-story Gherkin is the second tallest building in the City of London Financial District and the sixth tallest in London. Featuring roughly 538,000 square feet of office space, the pickle-shaped tower is home to Kirkland and Ellis, ION Trading, Swiss Re, and Standard Life, among others.
“The acquisition of 30 St Mary Axe is consistent with our real estate strategy of investing in properties that are truly special – at the best locations within great cities,” The Safra Group said in a news release. “While only 10 years old, this building is already a London icon that is distinguished from others in the market, with excellent value growth potential. We intend to make the building even better and more desirable through active ownership that will lead to a range of enhancements that will benefit tenants.”
The purchase of The Gherkin is Safra’s latest venture in the U.K. commercial property market, where it already owns Berkeley Square and 144 Bond St., among others. The group is also present in Brazil, the U.S., the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean, and employs about 8,500 people. Joseph Safra is chairman of Banco Safra, J. Safra Sarasin Holding Ltd. and the Safra National Bank of New York. It is ranked 64th on Forbes’ list of billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $14.9 billion. The Safra Group recently revealed a $1.3 billion deal to acquire U.S. banana giant Chiquita, in partnership with Brazil-based juice company Cutrale, The Guardian reported.