London’s “Gherkin” sold for £600m

Swiss RE is selling the London landmark in the most expensive single office transaction ever in the UK.

30 St Mary Axe, the famous London skyscraper better known as the “Gherkin”, has been sold for £600 million ($1.2 billion; €911 million) to German property firm IVG Immobilien and private investment bank Evans Randall.

Evans Randall, the London-based investment and finance house, is taking a 50 percent stake in the building.

The deal makes 30 St Mary Axe, which was developed by European reinsurer Swiss Re, the most expensive single office ever to be sold in the UK.

IVG reportedly won an auction to buy the property at the end of last year, but only recently brought in Evans Randall to help finance the deal.

Over the past 18 months, Evans Randall has built up a real estate portfolio worth £2 billion. The firm describes itself as an investor and finance house structuring investments as “private equity transactions.” It typically borrows to buy properties and then syndicates out stakes in the asset to private clients and institutional investors.

According to its website, the company, which was founded by chairman and chief executive Michael Evans in 1993, plans to add £1 billion of property every year to the current portfolio.

Among its most notable deals is the €220 million purchase and leaseback of the Konigsbau Passagen shopping center in Stuttgart, Germany. Evans Randall has also bought the headquarters of ING in the Hague, as well as the London headquarters of ABN Amro, Bank of Scotland and the UK’s Financial Services Authority.

30 St Mary Axe was put on the market last year. The 41-story office building in the City of London was commissioned by Swiss Re and designed by Foster and Partners. Since its opening in late 2003 it has become an iconic landmark on London’s skyline, and has received numerous awards.

Its sale comes at a time when several other London skyscrapers are being shopped in the market. A consortium including US developer and investor Tishman Speyer and UBS Wealth Management is selling CityPoint, London’s largest single commercial property at 707,000 square feet. The consortium is reportedly looking for more than £650 million.

HSBC is also in the market to sell and lease back its headquarters in Canary Wharf for up to £1 billion.