LONDON’s landmark “Walkie-Talkie” skyscraper has been sold for £1.3bn to Hong Kong investors, in a record-breaking transaction for a single building in the UK. The building at 20 Fenchurch Street has been bought by Lee Kum Kee, a sauces and condiments group best known for its oyster sauce, the vendors said.
It becomes the latest trophy London building to be snapped up by buyers from China and Hong Kong as outbound Asian capital propels the market to fresh highs. Landsec, the UK real estate investment trust that owns 50 per cent of the building, said it had exchanged contracts with LKK Health Products Group, a division of the broader Lee Kum Kee Group, which would also buy the remaining 50 per cent stake controlled by Canary Wharf Group.
The sale follows that of the “Cheesegrater” skyscraper, or Leadenhall Building, which was sold to another Chinese company, CC Land, in May for £1.15bn, defying predictions of a weakening property market after the Brexit vote. Chinese property developers have been investing heavily in London buildings, along with more unlikely buyers such as Lee Kum Kee, which bought a £37m Docklands building in 2016 and earlier this year approached the owners of the “Gherkin” skyscraper about a potential sale.
The 34-storey Walkie-Talkie, designed by Rafael Viñoly, was completed in 2014. Now fully let, it is one of the financial district’s most recognisable buildings, although its bulbous design divides opinion. It also became notorious in 2013 when sunlight reflected from its concave windows scorched pedestrians and damaged parked cars.