A&O takes Westbrook through refinancing of Shell-Mex House

Allen & Overy (A&O) has advised private equity group Westbrook Partners on the £338m refinancing of what is thought to be one of the most expensive properties ever bought in the UK.

Shell-Mex House, which sits on London’s Strand, was sold by a consortium of property moguls made up of Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz, David and Simon Reuben, and Jack Dellal for around £490m in 2007, the peak of the property boom.

The iconic 537,000 sq ft building is primarily occupied by Pearson-owned companies, including ­Mergermarket, Penguin Books and Rough Guides. PricewaterhouseCoopers and Shell also have offices there.

A&O, led by commercial real estate partner Christopher Woolf, acted for ­Westbrook Partners as the company sought to replace the existing debt facility, which was due to expire in 2012.

The building has been refinanced with a £338m, five-year interest-only ­funding package, which was underwritten by European financial services groups DekaBank Deutsche Girozentrale and ING Groep.

Westbrook’s talks with the two financial services groups were first reported in January. According to reports, the refinancing attracted a lot of interest from banks, meaning that Westbrook Partners could negotiate more favourable terms on the loan.

The deal is one of the largest of its kind since the recession, with those in the market hoping it will be an indicator that banks have loosened the purse strings on financing real estate assets, though only for top-quality properties.

However, one property partner at a top City firm said they were cautious about declaring a trend, stating: “[Banks becoming more inclined to lend] would be the hope, but I’ve not seen the evidence for that yet.”