Taiwan-Based Life-Insurance Company Grabs London Walbrook Building

Cathay Life shelled out a pretty penny for one of the largest properties in the central London area.
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A high-quality office headquarters building in central London changed hands, as announced by Minerva Ltd. The U.K.-based real estate investment and development group sold the property to Cathay Life, an insurer based in Taiwan. The headline price was approximately $905 million (£575 million) before certain adjustments including for unexpired rent-free periods, reads a press release issued by the seller.

The property is located on a 1.6 acre site in the City of London district of the British capital, across the street from the Cannon Street railway terminus and connected London Underground station. The area has good transport links to London’s West End, Mid Town and Canary Wharf quarters. According to the seller’s website, the Walbrook Building is one of the largest properties in the central City area encompassing 410,000 square feet of offices and 35,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. It also offers some of the largest trading floor plates in Europe. It has received BREEAM’s environmental rating of “Excellent.”

Minerva appointed architects Foster & Partners to design the building in 2005, arm-in-arm with Arup Group Ltd. as structural engineer for the project and it was completed in 2010. In 2011, when Minerva was acquired by Jupiter Properties 2011 U.K. Ltd., the Walbrook Building was 100 percent vacant. Today, a large portion of the property is used by several high-profile international office tenants including Worldpay, DNB Bank, GSMA, JLL, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Xchanging, and Vanguard. Virgin Active and Waitrose have also signed long-term leases recently in the retail section of the asset.

This sale marks Minerva’s fourth asset sale since 2011 and the company was represented in the transaction by Knight Frank L.L.P., a residential and commercial property consultancy headquartered in London. Minerva also sold the Ram Brewery to Greenland Group and the fully-let St. Botolph Building to Deka prior to this latest deal.