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Qatar continues to dominate the UK capital's prime property market.

While Brookfield Property Partners and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) completed the acquisition

of 100 per cent of London's Canary Wharf Group via a Au2.6 billion (US$ 3.76 billion) buyout of Songbird

Estates in 2015, Qatar's royal family continued to snap up the grander family homes of London.

Among a string of deals, which has seen the Arabian Gulf state's ruling Al Thani family acquire a

sizeable swathe of London's exclusive Mayfair, was a six-storey listed Victorian townhouse close to

Park Lane, bought from businessman David Meller for over Au40 million (US$ 57.7 million). Overall the

purchasing pattern is viewed by experts as the deliberate assembly of a much larger estate in the

north-west section of Mayfair.

Indeed the sheer number of Qatari owned properties in the area has prompted leading estate agents in

the UK capital to now refer to it as AaeLittle Doha'. Meanwhile in nearby Regents Park, Qatar's royal

family are to continue their attempt to obtain planning permission to amalgamate three listed homes

into a single US$ 300 million palatial residence, despite the local council's rejection of their plans

earlier this year.

From a more modern residential property perspective, the former prime minister of Qatar, Hamad bin

Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, owns half of One Hyde Park, allegedly the world's most expensive apartment

block, through his development company Waterknights.

Aside from the Canary Wharf financial district, Qatari entities already own significant portfolio of

London properties with a commercial and mixed use persuasion. These include:- The Shard at London

Bridge, Chelsea Barracks, 2012's Olympic Village, the Chancery Building on Grosvenor Square

(formerly the US Embassy), plus historic hotels Claridge's, the Connaught and The Berkeley along

with department store Harrods in Knightsbridge.

The QIA already owned 29 per cent of Songbird, which in turn owns 70 per cent of Canary Wharf

Group, whereas its partner in the final takeover deal, US investor Brookfield Property Partners, holds

22 per cent of Canary Wharf Group.

Canary Wharf is at the heart of London's financial services industry, a spread of steel and glass

towers that are home to banking institutions like HSBC, Citi and JP Morgan. The area represents a

redevelopment of the former West India Docks, championed by then Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

in the 1980s, to provide more space for a financial sector booming in the wake of extensive


In a speech made to press following the acquisition, Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohammed Al Thani, CEO of

QIA, said, "We are delighted that QIA and Brookfield have now concluded the acquisition of Songbird

and Canary Wharf Group".

"We look forward to realising our partnership with Brookfield as long term investors, to support the

management's strategy of pursuing further expansion through the creation of a sustainable, mixed

development comprising offices, homes as well as retail and leisure space," Sheikh Abdulla


Canary Wharf has been described by Ric Clark, chief executive of Brookfield Property Group, as "one

of the most treasured property estates in the world," most British commercial property consultancies

would agree with him. A statement that adds considerable weight to the claim that Qatar has arguably

cemented its position as one of the dominant investment forces in several categories of prime London

property, and is likely to remain so.

Copyright [c] Andy McTiernan. All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. ( ).
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Publication:Andy McTiernan Property & Economy Bulletin
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Aug 5, 2015
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