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OMERS provides further funding to Crown Estate JV

The real estate arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System has extended its joint venture with the property company of the British royal family in an agreement valued at £145 million.

Oxford Properties has entered into an agreement with the Crown Estate to develop a commercial, mixed-use property in the St James's area of London.

The agreement sees the real estate arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) and the property company of the British royal family add a further £145 million (€204.6 million; $224.6 million) to a partnership that was started in 2013.

The development of the property is expected to comprise 260,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space and to be completed in 2016.

The extension of the partnership, dubbed the St James's Market joint venture, follows on from a £320 million arrangement struck in 2013 to redevelop two neighboring blocks between the world-famous shopping street, Regent Street, and two adjoining streets. In keeping with the previous arrangement, The Crown Estate will retain the freehold to the property and act as asset manager.

Oxford's investment is part of a wider push by the C$34 billion (€25.2 billion; $27.7 billion) platform to have a C$10 billion real estate business in Europe by 2018. Paul Brundage, Oxford Properties' executive vice president and senior managing director, said: ” “We're equally delighted to be extending our relationship with The Crown Estate with this investment. St James's is an area of London we are very excited about and the creation of a second joint venture with a like-minded strategic partner further provides us with the opportunity to realize our European strategy to invest in core markets and core assets alongside a development program to enhance portfolio returns.” Globally, the investor has plans to grow a real estate portfolio to approximately C$50 billion.

For the Crown Estate, which owns and manages most of its own property, the partnership extension sees it grow further its third-party investment management business, which also includes joint ventures with Norway's sovereign wealth fund, Norges Bank Investment Management and with another Canadian institutional investor, healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan.

In total, the firm manages almost £1.5 billion of third party funds via its joint ventures program.