Ares, Delancey-owned Minerva in £600m UK sale

The London-based developer taken private by property fund managers Ares and Delancey has exited one of its prominent UK investments to a Chinese state conglomerate.

Minerva, the property developer taken private by real estate fund managers Ares Management and Delancey in 2011, has sold the historical Ram Brewery development site in London to Chinese state-owned Greenland Group, according to a company statement.

The transaction has a total investment size of £600 million (€724 million; $985 million), which includes the purchase price and development costs, and represents Greenland’s first foray into Europe. Greenland has become one of the largest developers in the world, with 600 million square feet of projects under development in more than 80 cities worldwide.

Minerva is selling the 7.75 acre Ram Brewery development with planning permission for 661 new homes alongside the site’s historic buildings, which together housed the original brewery of British pub chain Young & Co's Brewery. Minerva originally bought the site in 2006, and plans for redevelopment have been wavering back and forth ever since.

“Since acquiring Minerva two years ago, we have worked hard to comprehensively redesign the original scheme which culminated in planning consent being secured last December,” Delancey managing director Paul Goswell said in the statement. “Our strategy had been to implement the scheme ourselves, possibly with a partner, but that changed when Greenland made their unsolicited proposal.”

Greenland is the third mainland China developer to invest in London in recent months, after Dalian Wanda Group and Reignwood Group. The state-owned enterprise also acquired several large assets in New York, Los Angeles and Sydney last year.

Zhang Yuliang, Greenland’s chairman and president, pointed to London’s status as a global financial center and the 10 percent rise in average residential prices last year as reasons for the developer’s choice of London.

Earlier this year, Ares pushed itself onto the real estate investment stage with the takeover of private equity real estate firm AREA Property Partners. The combined platform has about $8 billion of committed capital run by a team of more than 70 investment professionals, and is currently contemplating the launch of a series of debt funds, PERE reported earlier.

Just last month, Delancey teamed up with Netherlands pension investor APG to buy London’s Elephant & Castle shopping center for £80 million. The firm raised its €1.5 billion Delancey European Opportunity Fund in 2007.