Stephenson Harwood bags green Kuwaiti deal

Stephenson Harwood has helped a Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund take advantage of the cheaper prices offered by the market downturn and buy an environmentally-friendly office block.

The law firm has advised longstanding client St Martins Property Investments, part of the Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), on the £400m acquisition of the recently-developed Willis Building in the City from British Land.

The Norman Foster-designed building has a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) rating of excellence, which according to lead real estate partner John Pike is because of “the way energy is utilitised across the board.”

The building’s trump card, according to Pike, is the green walling on the party wall arrangements. Green walling involves covering wall surfaces with climbing plants which reduce heat and noise and the damaging effect of storm water, although Pike admits the benefits are “probably more aesthetic” than ecological.

Pike was instructed in March of this year and led an interdisciplinary team that included construction, planning, environmental and tax advice.

Real estate partner Jeff Smith at SJ Berwin advised British Land on the sale of the building, which he claims to be the largest transaction in the City since the onset of the credit crunch.

The sale is expected to complete on 23 June. The offices, totalling 496,000 sq ft, are let to Willis Group.