Paul Hastings and Norton Rose act on first White Tower sale

Paul Hastings and Norton Rose have advised on the first property in the White Tower portfolio to be sold, after the buildings were put into administration last year.

Finance partners Conor Downey and Charles Roberts at Paul Hastings acted for the special servicer CB Richard Ellis on the sale of the New Court building on Carey Street to the fund Welput, for approximately £60m.

The New Court office building was one of a string of central London buildings that were used to secure a £1.45bn loan to property tycoon Simon Halabi.
However, a 2009 revaluation saw the portfolio’s worth depreciate to half its original amount. This and a series of wind-up petitions issued by HMRC, which was seeking to recover £4.8m in unpaid tax, led to the buildings being put into administration.

Downey said: “This was probably the first ­high-profile enforcement we’ve seen in the credit crunch, as we haven’t tended to see lenders enforcing against borrowers. Also, we believe it’s the first time ever that administrators in the UK have been appointed over a ­Jersey limited partnership.”

Further properties are expected to be sold in the coming weeks, ahead of a bondholder repayment date in July.

Downey spoke of the “patchwork structure” by which interests in the buildings were held. “It would be much better for everyone in future if we could have much simpler structures,” he commented.

Real estate partner David Sinclair at Norton Rose advised Welput.