Qatar Investment Authority and a US investor have approached Canary Wharf-owner Songbird Estates regarding a possible takeover, in a move which would further boost the sovereign wealth fund's presence in London real estate, said Qatar Tribune. Songbird, which is already partially owned by QIA, said in a statement on Thursday it would consider the approach, which it described as at a preliminary stage.
Songbird Estates is the majority owner of London's Canary Wharf estate, a cluster of high rise offices established some twenty-five years ago on former docks as a new financial district. The company is also a part owner of the landmark "Walkie Talkie" skyscraper in the City, London's traditional business area. "The board of Songbird will consider this approach in light of what is in the best interests of the shareholders in the company as a whole and in the meantime Songbird shareholders are advised to take no action," the company said in a statement.
Shares in Songbird soared 14.5 percent to 296.6 pence, their highest level for five years, putting the value of the group at about 2.2 billion pounds. Songbird was forced in 2010 to deny reports that Qatar's sovereign wealth fund had made a $700 million-plus takeover approach, which sent Songbird shares climbing at the time. Qatar already has a significant presence in some of London's newest and most-eye catching developments. It owns the Shard, Western Europe's tallest skyscraper at about 310 metres (1,016 feet) and is a part owner of a building in the Canary Wharf financial district since a deal in June.
A Qatari-backed plan to redevelop a central London site next to the River Thames was also given the go-ahead in June by the British government. The QIA, the country's sovereign wealth fund, owns 28.6 percent of Songbird. US company Brookfield Property Partners owns, operates and invests in office and industrial property. The pair have until Dec. 4 to make a firm intention to make an offer for the company. Songbird published bullish results earlier this year, saying the value of its buildings and planned developments jumped by nearly half in 2013, on sharp rises in property prices on the back of resurgent economic growth and demand from overseas buyers.