India developer makes overseas debut

Lodha outbid 20 global investors for a £300 million property, and has hired a JPMorgan veteran to run its new UK arm.

The Lodha Group, the Mumbai-based residential developer, has made its overseas investment debut with the £300.6 million (€362 million; $494 million) purchase of the MacDonald House in London.

Lodha bought the 150,000 square foot site, which sits not far from Buckingham Palace, from the Canadian High Commission with an all-cash offer that is understood to have involved no leverage. According to India’s Economic Times, Lodha plans to develop the MacDonald House into “super-luxury residences for the ultra-rich,” and hopes to garner about £750 million from sales.

It is understood that the bidding process for the MacDonald House was hotly contested, with strong interest from institutional investors globally. A total of 20 initial bidders were narrowed down to between six and seven institutions, including Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds and Asian institutions.

To manage its first property foray overseas, Lodha has hired Tyler Goodwin, a managing director for JP Morgan’s global real assets team, as the chief executive of its UK arm. It is understood that Goodwin will assume his new role on January 1, and until then will continue to work at JP Morgan.

Goodwin started at JP Morgan in 2006, and left in 2007 to form his own real estate fund, just in time for the global financial crisis. He rejoined JP Morgan in 2010 in his current role. Altogether he has about 24 years of experience in the real estate sector, with a background in development.

Lodha and Goodwin declined to comment, but PERE understands that Lodha is currently looking to build out a team of four in London once Goodwin starts at the organization. Lodha has already begun looking for candidates for the positions of marketing, planning, and project management. In the meantime, Lodha is also looking at a number of other development sites in the UK, and plans to focus its overseas expansion in that country initially.

This purchase follows on the heels of several other large Asian investors breaking into the London real estate market. Two weeks ago, Hong Kong-based Gaw Capital Partners purchased Waterside House at Paddington for approximately $321 million on behalf of a group of Korean investors. This summer, Ping An Insurance’s £260 million acquisition of the Lloyd’s of London office building also turned heads worldwide. However, to date, there have been very few Indian investors venturing abroad, aside from a few small hotel investments by corporate subsidiary Tata Realty.