Oyster Sauce Maker Nears Deal to Buy London Walkie Talkie

  • Hong Kong food maker would join Asian buyers of U.K. towers
  • Group wants Land’s stake as well as 50% previously up for sale

20 Fenchurch Street in London, also known as the Walkie-Talkie.

Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

Hong Kong’s Lee Kum Kee group, best known for making oyster sauce, is nearing a deal to buy the London skyscraper known as the Walkie Talkie, according to two people with knowledge of the plan.

The buyer is negotiating to buy 20 Fenchurch Street in its entirety, after a 50 percent stake held by a group of investors was originally offered for sale, the people said, asking not to be identified as they were not authorized to speak publicly. While the deal could still fall through, the talks have intensified in recent weeks, the people said. A spokeswoman for Lee Kum Kee had no immediate comment.

Canary Wharf Group Plc, the Qatari Investment Authority, China Investment Corp., Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing and Brookfield Property Partners LP asked brokers to pitch for a mandate to sell their 50 percent stake in March, CoStar News reported at the time. Land Securities Group Plc owns the remaining 50 percent, which Lee Kum Kee is said to want.

Asian real estate investors have been pouring into the U.K. capital on the back of the weaker pound following the vote to leave the European Union, buying up buildings with long leases that offer better returns than government bonds. Hong Kong-based investor C C Land agreed to buy the London tower known as the Cheesegrater for 1.15 billion pounds ($1.5 billion), a 26 percent premium to its September valuation, in February.

Canary Wharf, Morgan Stanley, Brookfield, QIA and Land Securities declined to comment. CIC did not reply to calls and emails seeking comment. Eastdil Secured and CBRE Group Inc. are managing the sale.

— With assistance by Alfred Liu, and Scott Deveau

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