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A major chunk of valuable real estate in and around London’s Camden market area, comprising the old Camden Stables portion of the markets which form the largest portion there, has just been sold to Israeli gaming and software entrepreneur Tedi Sagi for US$664 million (£400 million).
The package also includes a major site beside the Regents Canal called Hawley Wharf, which has planning permission for a US$498 million (£300 million) redevelopment including 170 houses, a modernized market area, a new school and a repertory cinema.
The Camden markets are a number of adjoining large retail markets in Camden Town in London near the Hampstead Road Lock of the Regent’s Canal. Among products sold on the stalls are crafts, clothing, small gifts and fast food. It is one of the most popular visitor attractions in London, attracting approximately 100, 000 people every weekend.
Located just to the east of Regent’s Park, in recent years the area has significantly gentrified and today has become prime London real estate. Today’s property deal, as is common in many such large property assemblies, actually has several fingers in the investment pie.
Sagi, who once served 18 months in an Israeli jail in the 1990s for bribery and fraud, founded Playtech in 1999, which provides software for online bingo games, casinos and poker rooms. Today Playtech is a hugely successful company, with a market capitalization of US$3.4 billion (£2.1 billion), and is a member of the London FTSE 250 index.
Exactly one year ago, in March 2013, and after a sometimes turbulent relationship, Playtech itself sold a 15% interest it held in British gambling company William Hill Plc back to them, raising US$704 million (£424 million) in the process.
Then just earlier this month, on March 4th the 42-year-old Tedi Sagi personally raised more than US$539 million (£326 million) by selling a 15% stake in Playtech, reducing his own share position but giving him a tidy sum of liquidity to help make this new property deal happen.
Sagi’s holding company Brickington Trading sold 45 million Playtech shares into the market at £7.25 each. Afterwards he continues to hold a 33.6% position in Playtech – alone still worth over US$1.1 billion (£700 million).
Two of the three partners in Camden Stables who are selling now to Sagi, and who held 25% each, are the UK property company Chelsfield Partners, and restaurant tycoon and the owner of Annabels, Richard Caring. Richard Caring purchased his stake in the Camden market eight years ago in 2005, for just US$67 million (£40 million), so he has now made two and a half times his money with this transaction, even with the interruption caused by serious recession that intruded in 2008.
Richard Caring is also reported to be on the point of selling his iconic Wentworth Golf Club for US$265 million (£160 million), this time possibly to an investor from the Far East. If Caring goes through with it then by killing two birds with two stones, as it were, he will be picking up a total of US$431 million (£260 million), which must classify as a good week’s work.
Finally, the other 50% stake in the Camden Stables property was held by Israeli investor Bebo Kobo, who bought into the Camden Markets much earlier even then Caring, more than twenty years ago, and who has been seeking a new investor to carry the property forward. His profit is going to be much larger even than Caring’s.
In a statement Tedi Sagi said, “Bebo invested vast resources in developing the project in recent years and he managed to establish the area as on the leading entertainment and tourist destinations in London and in the world, ” adding, “He spent many years in finding the right buyer for the property. I am grateful that he picked me to carry this important project forward.”
The new project in Camden
Camden Lock Market; street scene: Camden Town, London, U.K. – Sat 9th July 2011 at about 6:00pm