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Linklaters advises on most of BP Pension Fund's real estate investment work as part of its overall relationship with the oil giant. In 1967, Linklaters advised on the pension fund's acquisition of the 10-acre Berkeley Square estate, when it cost a mere £12m. In the 1990s, it advised the fund on the sale of a smaller chunk of Berkeley Square properties to Middle Eastern investors, and on other individual sales from the estate totalling more than £100m. Alexandra Marks is client partner.
The latest sale - of the square and more than 100 freehold buildings around it - is aimed at rebalancing the fund's exposure, which is seen as overweighted in London. But BP does not plan to cut its direct ownership of the sector. The proceeds, expected to exceed £300m, are likely to be reinvested in other property.
Linklaters has not yet been formally instructed on the sale, but has been preparing documentation for some time in readiness for a quick exchange.
BP is keen to sell the Berkeley Square estate as one portfolio. Interested parties are expected to include Grosvenor Estates, the Duke of Westminster's property group, Great Portland Estates, Benchmark, Derwent Valley and US property company Tishman Speyer Properties. Middle Eastern and Irish investors may also bid.