Evans Randall – a client of SJ Berwin partner David Ryland – bought the City building from UBS Asset Management for £127m in the summer of this year. This was part of a joint venture with Al Salam Bank – a client of Herbert Smith partner Nadim Khan (15 June 2009).
However, Spanish insurance company Mutua Madrileña has made an offer for the 200,000 sq ft building for an estimated £157m.
Mutua Madrileña is believed to be advised by partner Franc Pena at Clifford Chance, which declined to comment. Mutua has long been advised by Spanish firm Uría Menéndez, although Uría was thought to be conflicted out from taking a role on this occasion.
As a result of the Islamic-compliant structure of the original deal Evans Randall is taking a lead role on any possible divestment. An acquisition by Mutua could see Al Salam also sell its interest.
If the deal goes ahead it will be further evidence of the London prime real estate market gathering pace since the summer.
One real estate partner at a top 10 firm commented: “There’s a perception we’re well off the bottom of the market and coming up – some people are bidding for everything, there’s an unbelievable frenzy going on.
But despite the increased activity the partner questioned the upturn. He asked: “The recovery was predicted to be fragile. A great spike is probably not a healthy thing – can it be sustained?”
SJ Berwin and Herbert Smith declined to comment.