Clifford Chance has advised Wates City of London Properties on one of the largest real estate investment sale transactions in the City this year.
Prudential, advised by Berwin Leighton, paid around £250m for the multi-let buildings of City Tower, City Place House and 90 Queen Street, and Wates' 45 per cent interest in Winchester House, which is occupied by Deutsche Bank. The deal closed last week.
Wates, which specialises in City office schemes, will continue to manage the properties on behalf of Prudential.
Earlier this year, the poor stock performance of listed property companies encouraged the likes of Land Securities and Hammerson to take steps to protect themselves against hostile takeover bids. Wates' sale of the investment properties last week confirms its own shift towards a more specific focus on development in an effort to make it more appealing to the stock market.
City Place House was sold to a subsidiary of Prudential by way of an asset sale, while the other three investment properties were transferred to the insurance giant by selling those Wates companies that owned an interest in them. Real estate partner Robert MacGregor led the Clifford Chance team, with Justin Turner and Adrian Levy.
MacGregor says: "This is probably an indicator of the trend towards share sale routes being adopted as a real alternative to asset management, driven largely by the increase in stamp duty rates."
Clifford Chance has been principal adviser to Wates since 1995, when it acted for the company on the pre-letting of Winchester House.
The Berwin Leighton team was led by property partner Roger Buck, who became client relationship partner for Prudential when David Taylor moved to Herbert Smith. Prudential has been a client of the firm since 1991, although it also puts out a share of its work to Lovells.