Published On: Wed, Nov 19th, 2014

Safra Group Buys London’s ‘Gherkin’ for $1.2 Billion

The Gherkin

Brazilian billionaire Joseph Safra’s The Safra Group has acquired the iconic London tower known as The Gherkin for $1.2 billion. The Tower has become possibly the most noticeable part of the London skyline since it opened only ten years ago.

This marks The Safra Group’s first venture into the London real estate market.

The company stated in a press release that, “the acquisition of 30 St Mary Axe is consistent with our real estate strategy of investing in properties that are truly special – at the best locations within great cities. While only 10 years old, this building is already a London icon that is distinguished from others in the market, with excellent value growth potential. We intend to make the building even better and more desirable through active ownership that will lead to a range of enhancements that will benefit tenants.”

Located at 30 St. Mary Axe, The Gherkin tower was designed by Norman Foster and Arup Group and constructed by Skanska. It is the 590 feet tall and has 41 stories making it the second largest building in London. The tower holds 538, 000 square feet of office space. Kirkland and Ellis, ION Trading, Swiss Re, and Standard Life all currently have offices there.

The acquisition may seem like a surprise to some analysts but others are not surprised.

“A lot of sovereign wealth funds and big equity funds have all got billions to spend in the market, so wherever you see these big lot sizes come up there is a lot of competition, ” Simon Mallinson, executive managing director at property-research firm Real Capital Analytics Inc. told Bloomberg.

Born in Lebanon into a rich banking family, the 74 year old Joseph Safra has an estimated net worth of $12.2 billion. The family moved to Brazil in 1952 where he founded Banco Safra, now Brazil’s eighth biggest bank..

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