Lehman Brothers buys giant Europe office block

The US investment bank has teamed with French property company Atemi to buy Coeur Defense in Paris for €2.1bn from joint owners Whitehall Funds and Unibail.

Lehman Brothers Real Estate Partners has acquired an interest in the huge office tower Coeur Defense in Paris in a transaction valued at €2.1 billion ($2.7 billion), one of the largest deals in Europe for a single building. The seller is a joint venture between Goldman Sachs’ Whitehall Funds and listed property company Unibail.

The deal was announced in France by Unibail, which owns 49 percent of the property. Whitehall owns the remainder.

Coeur Defense is a striking skyscraper in the west of Paris and is shaped like a staggered ”H”. Two parallel buildings with rounded edges offset each other giving the building its dramatic image, but even more striking is its size. At 350,000 square meters, it is said to be Europe’s largest office building by floorspace.

Unibail owned the entire property up until July 2004 when it sold 51 percent to Whitehall. At the time, the property was reportedly valued at €1.3 billion.

Coeur Defense was built in 2001 to replace the former Esso Tower and soars 40 stories above the ground. The Esso Tower was the first of the older buildings in La Defense to make way for a new wave of skyscrapers.