London's Canary Wharf, built on the site of the old West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs, was a concept first conceived in the mid-1980s as a way to revive the long stagnant area. After a few bumps in the road, the project eventually found its feet. From 1999 to 2004 the working population had risen by more than 300 percent to 63,000. By the turn of the century, Canary Wharf was a 97-acre estate that housed three of Europe's tallest buildings. But in 2003 a downturn in the financial sector, which provides most of Canary Wharf's tenants, led to a dip in the share price of the company that owns the development, and the company decided to sell.
However, it wasn't the sheer size of the property, London's second largest business district, that made this such a huge deal. What gave it such a high profile was its bloody and protracted negotiation. When Canary Wharf first announced it was in exclusive negotiations with Silvestor UK Properties, a consortium including Goldman Sachs' Whitehall 2001 fund and the Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund, the company's share price rocketed and Silvestor's first offer of 255p per share was rejected. The consortium upped their offer, but by then Paul Reichman, the man who had created Canary Wharf through his development company Olympia & York 15 years earlier, had teamed up with Canadian property group Brascan to form his own bid. For months the two engaged in a fierce bidding war, until the UK's Takeover Panel stepped in to set a time limit for the bidding and to demand that the two companies not know what the other one was offering. In the end, Silvestor won with a bid of 294.5p per share, but only after a complicated restructuring in which they changed their name to Songbird Acquisition. Today Canary Wharf is thriving and plans are underway for the development to more than double in size.