REAL ESTATE TEAM OF THE YEAR
WINNERS: Ashurst and Eversheds
Ashurst and Eversheds together were instrumental in securing the building and opening of The Shard. At 1,016 feet, it is Western Europe's tallest tower and includes residential apartments, offices, retail and restaurant space. Together with 17-storey neighbouring building The Place, it makes up the 1.5m square feet of space known as London Bridge Quarter. Ashurst has been advising the developer Sellar Property on the London Bridge Quarter development since 2006. Eversheds came on board in 2008 to advise the Qatari debt and equity investors. The firms were confronted by a huge range of challenges throughout the course of the project, mainly thanks to its proximity to London Bridge railway station. As such, it had to deal with plans for The Shard building to overhang the station and the foundations for The Place to run between the tunnels serving London Underground stations. It also had to work closely with Transport for London and Network Rail in negotiations to refurbish part of London Bridge station, and construct a new bus station. In July 2012, The Shard was officially opened but legal work for the firms continues. In August, Ashurst exchanged agreements for the lease of the building's restaurant space. Meanwhile, Eversheds was busy working on practical completion arrangements for The Shard, including the ongoing structure for management and a complex suite of technology contracts. It was even involved in securing an injunction to prevent 'French Spiderman' Alain Robert from scaling the building. Varied work indeed.
2ND: Davitt Jones Bould
As longstanding external property advisers to The Royal Parks (TRP), Davitt Jones Bould (DJB) sprung into action during Olympics year 2012. The firm was tasked with preparing the parks for more than 40 different Olympic and Paralympic events, including the beach volleyball on Horse Guards Parade, the equestrian events in Greenwich Park and the triathlon in Hyde Park. In addition to the Games themselves, DJB represented TRP in licensing the road works to create the Games Route Network, acted in relation to the Festival Live Site in Hyde Park, and advised on the legal framework permitting the creation of retail outlets within TRP to sell merchandise. One judge in this category said: “The Games Route Network in particular was a wonder to behold.” All this took place alongside advising TRP in relation to the development of Crossrail, the creation of the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, and the re-tender of the concession contract for festivals to be held in Hyde Park.
3RD: Mayer Brown
Mayer Brown's real estate team advised China's largest developer, China Overseas Holding Ltd (COHL), on its purchase of One Finsbury Circus for £152m. The acquisition of the Lutyens-designed Grade 2 listed building is the first time a Chinese state-owned development company has invested in real estate outside its home market.
The team advised COHL on challenges including how best to acquire the Luxembourg-based special purpose vehicle that owned the building, how to navigate the UK real estate process and how best to organise the UK tax arrangements on the transaction and future earnings of the property.
The firm put a real emphasis on working culture. In addition to having a Hong-Kong based Mayer Brown trainee seconded to London, COHL at any point had up to 15 individuals working on the deal in the City. Judges said: “This is a great example of a law firm helping foreign investment into the UK property market.”