Pinsent Masons advises ABP on historic £1 billion Royal Albert Docks deal
31 May, 2013
ABP China (Holdings), advised by Pinsent Masons, has signed a £1 billion deal with the Greater London Authority (GLA) to transform London’s historic Royal Albert Docks into the capital’s next business district.
Under the terms of the deal, the 35-acre site situated in the heart of the Royal Docks Enterprise Zone will be transformed into a gateway for Asian and Chinese businesses seeking to establish headquarters in Europe as well as other firms wishing to set up in London. When complete, the site will become London’s third business district, creating 20,000 full-time jobs and will be worth £6 billion.
The deal represents one of the first direct investments by a Chinese developer in London’s property market and will eventually be home to over 3.2 million sq ft of high-quality work, retail and leisure space, including 2.5 million sq ft of prime offices, creating a new, vibrant 24.7 district on London’s waterways. It will be the largest development of its kind in the UK, acting as a platform for financial, high-tech and knowledge-driven industries looking to establish and drive forward their business in the UK and European markets.
Working with UK developer Stanhope and architects Farrells, ABP has committed to developing a minimum of 600,000 sq ft of space in the first phase, with strong interest in the office element already being shown by Chinese companies including some of the country’s top banks. The first occupiers are due to move in in 2017.
David Taylor of Pinsent Masons said: “We at Pinsent Masons are delighted to have been associated with this landmark transaction. When complete, the project will offer employment to a greater number than were employed in the Dock at its height. This will be the largest scheme of its kind in the United Kingdom and ABP’s vision will help secure London as China’s business gateway to Europe.”
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “For centuries the waterways of east London were the throbbing arteries of UK trade and commerce. This deal symbolises the revival of that great era, continuing the re-invention of this once maligned part of the capital into a 21st century centre of trade and investment. Creating a third financial district in the capital, this development will act as a beacon for eastern investors looking west, bringing with it tens of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of investment for the UK economy.”
Mr Weiping Xu, chairman of ABP (China) Holdings, said: “I am delighted at the support and guidance which ABP has received from the first class team at Pinsent Masons led by David Taylor, Suzanne Gill, Simon Gardiner and Richard Ford. This is the largest investment by a Chinese company in UK real estate and its scale and complexity require the best in legal advice which we have received. I look forward to working with Pinsent Masons through the planning process and delivery of the project.”
An experienced developer in China, this is ABP’s first development project in Europe. With a track record of investing in and transforming large areas in need of regeneration, the company specialises in delivering projects of significant scale. ABP has recently completed a large development of around 15 million sq ft in Beijing, while its Shenyang project in north-eastern China is even larger, with plans for 75 million sq ft when complete.