City firms cash in on £280m property deal

CITY firms Cameron Markby Hewitt and Denton Hall have hit a fee-earning jackpot by handling Britain's most valuable residential property sale.

Cameron Markby Hewitt's property team, led by partner Louise Anderson, acted for the Wellcome Trust in its £280 million purchase of the Kensington Estate. The estate forms one of the largest tracts of residential property in central London, covering 54 acres and 2,300 properties.

Nine property assistants worked on classifying leases at Cameron Markby Hewitt and 4,000 notices were served on leasehold property by 12 department trainees over the weekend of 21-24 July.

Denton Hall handled the sale for the 300-year-old medical foundation Smith's Charity. The Denton Hall team was led by property partner Peta Dollar and included Gillian Goldsworthy, Nicholas Thompson and Virginia Bryant.

According to Anderson, the sale involved a “huge IT task” and IT staff worked over weekends to handle the project. Complications in recent leasehold law led to a seven-month due diligence process conducted alongside Denton Hall solicitors, says Anderson.

“We ended up spending a lot of time down at Denton Hall's offices, and it was very much a case of two firms of solicitors and surveyors working together in a non-adversarial way,” she says.

The sale was prompted by the desire of the £7.3 billion Wellcome Trust to build up its property investment, while the Smith's Charity was keen to reduce its high exposure to property in its asset portfolio.

The estate is estimated to generate £12 million a year through ground rents.