Gooch Webster defectors set up rival niche agency

Three of Gooch Webster’s youngest directors have defected to set up their own niche investment agency.

James Young, David Holt and David Whitmarsh – who are all in their 30s – left last week and will set up Whitmarsh Holt Young in March.

They claimed to take with them commitments from up to eight institutional and property company clients.

The split is the first since Gooch Webster was formed from the merger of Gooch & Wagstaff and J Trevor & Webster last March.

Young will specialise in national investment agency and development funding, Whitmarsh will concentrate on central London investment and Holt will concentrate on national agency.

Whitmarsh Holt Young, which will be based in the West End, will join a burgeoning list of niche investment agencies which specialise in off-market deals. Rivals will include: Lewis Ellis, Anthony Green & Spencer, Michael Elliott & Partners, Holley Blake, Purkiss Hanrahan, Brown Cooper Marples, BH2, Lewis & Partners, Franc Warwich, Mason Philips and RMJ.

Young admitted that competition for deals will be stiff, but said that having established clients onboard would be an advantage.

‘This is a good opportunity and will allow us to get our teeth into something very different,’ he said.

Pru invests £24.5m at Heathrow

Prudential has bought UBS Asset Managers’ Summit Industrial Estate at Heathrow in one of the biggest industrial investment sales so far this year.

The deal demonstrates that last year’s heated industrial investment market has yet to cool down. Prudential paid £24.5m for the 16,190 sq m (174,290 sq ft) centre on Bath Road, reflecting a yield of just 6%.

The six-unit estate is let to tenants that include electrical companies Sony, Aiwa and Tandy.

Rents average £96/sq m (£8.92/ sq ft), but with industrial rents at Heathrow hitting £134.55/sq m (£12.50/sq ft), there is potential for growth. Demand is largely from the air cargo and telecoms sectors. The scheme has around 30% office content.

Whitmarsh Holt Young acted for UBS. Knight Frank acted for Prudenti

End of an era for H&B HQ

One of the oldest UK surveying firm head offices is about to be sold.

Healey & Baker’s base at 25-27 St George Street, London, is under offer to Belvedere Smith Portfolio, the joint venture between Portfolio Holdings and Julian Smith.

The property company, which is backed by US investor Apollo, is understood to have offered £15.3m for the Mayfair office, owned by BAA Lynton. The parties are due to exchange in two weeks.

Healey & Baker, which pays just over £1m a year in rent, has occupied the building for 50 years. It has just four years left on the lease and it is shortly expected to depart from the building, marking the end of an era for the firm.

Healey & Baker has already been linked with Burford’s redevelopment of Mayfair Place on Berkeley Street. If the firm moves it will present Belvedere Smith Portfolio a prime redevelopment opportunity.

baa Lynton, through Drivers Jonas, was asking £13.5m for the property. Underbidders are thought to include Benchmark, City & West End Developments, Great Portland Estates, Minerva and ASDA Property.

Whitmarsh Holt Young and Weatherall Green & Smith are understood to have acted for Belvedere Smith Portfolio. Both parties declined to comment.

The Crown Estate

The Crown Estate has sold a West End estate held for almost 500 years, to Scottish property company City Site Estates for £34.5m – at a yield of 2.5%. The 89,331 sq ft (8,299 sq m) office-led estate fronts Suffolk Street and Pall Mall East in St James’s.

It was put up for sale for £21m as part of the Crown Estates’ strategy to reduce its exposure to London offices.

Whitmarsh Holt Young is acting for City Site Estates; Knight Frank is advising the Crown Estate.

Glanmore to buy Brum Broadway

RREEF Real Estate is set to sell the Broadway, its mixed-use scheme on Birmingham’s Broad Street, to Glanmore Property Fund for £3m above the asking price.

RREEF had quoted £55m, which would represent a 6% net initial yield for the scheme. However Glanmore has the scheme under offer for around £58m.

The 258,495 sq ft scheme covers an area of 4.05 acres and includes 166,965 sq ft of offices, a 91,530 sq ft Tesco supermarket and a 794-space multistorey car park.

The Broadway overlooks the Fiveways roundabout along with the 58,000 sq ft Apex House another of Glanmore’s recent acquistions, which it bought for £18.3m.

Whitmarsh Holt Young acted for RREEF. None of the parties involved in the sale would comment.

Retail park popularity prevails with investors

Unite Group has confirmed its £31.5m purchase of one of the largest student housing schemes with planning consent in central London

Scottish Widows Investment Partnership placed Invista Real Estate’s Hermiston Gait retail park under offer at £65m, reflecting a yield of 6.75%, well above the £63.5m asking price.

Wilky Fund Management, acting for Associated British Foods Pension Trustees, has bought Brook Retail Park in Clacton-on-Sea from Aviva Investors Property Trust for £11.5m.

Tenants include B&Q and Currys. The annual rent of £1.021m at the 72,800 sq ft park equates to £13.50/sq ft.

The purchase price, including costs, reflects a net initial yield of 8.46%.

Brook Retail Park is Associated British Foods’ first purchase since allocating new funds to property in February.

Wilky consultant fund manager Kevin Seville said it has a further £10m to invest in industrial assets.

Aviva Investors is also in talks to sell its retail park in Wellingborough to Threadneedle.

Last week, Hercules Unit Trust exchanged contracts on the sale of four retail parks generating £166m.

Hercules now has up to £470m to invest in the sector. It has sold £378m of assets this year, to reduce its loan-to-value ratio to 32%.

Whitmarsh Holt Young acted for Associated British Foods; Edgerley Simpson Howe acted for Aviva Investors Property Trust; Wilkinson Williams and CB Richard Ellis are advising on the Hermiston Gate sale.

Students Unite in London’s Southwark

Unite Group has confirmed its £31.5m purchase of one of the largest student housing schemes with planning consent in central London

The development site on Great Suffolk Street in Southwark was purchased from Q Developments and has permission for 671 beds and 24,000 sq ft of mixed-use space.

The scheme will provide a gym, cafe and low-cost office space.

A revised Conran & Partners-designed scheme was granted planning permission in August. Work began on site in October and will be completed in time for the start of the 2012 academic year.

Great Suffolk Street is close to the London School of Economics, King’s College London, London South Bank University and the University of the Arts.

Unite already has a presence in the area on Waterloo Road, where a 146-room scheme was granted consent in September, and the 230-bed Lavington Street scheme, which was completed in September.

King Sturge and Whitmarsh Holt Young acted for Q Developments.

UBS’s Tooley Street bought by HSBC Private Bank

Private clients of HSBC Private Bank have bought UBS’s 160 Tooley Street for around £135m.

The price paid for the office development which is let to Southwark Council reflects an initial yield of around 5.25%.

Southwark Council will take occupation early next year and has signed a 25-year lease at £38.50/sq ft.

UBS Global Asset Management put the building up for sale in November for around £140m.

The rental income from Southwark Council at the 200,000 sq ft building is around £7.5m a year.

Tudor Toone advised UBS and Whitmarsh Holt Young advised HSBC private bank.