Spanish insurer Mapfre announced on Wednesday the purchase of a historic building in the United Kingdom, known as Yalding House and located in the London neighborhood of Fitzrovia, which was the headquarters of the BBC radio for more than 60 years. The property, which until now belonged to British Land, was acquired by Mapfre through its real estate fund with GLL for a price that according to some sources would be around 40 million euros.
The office building, which is located in one of the most central areas of London, near the Oxford Circus, Great Portland Street and Regent’s Park tube stations, and which measures almost 2,700 square meters, is six stories high and currently It houses companies such as the American startup Slack, as well as Russells Solicitors and O&P Management.
The construction of Yalding House, home and place of transmission of the BBC Radio 1 and 3 between 1952 and 2012, dates from 1930. Although it does not stand out especially for its external beauty and it follows the aesthetics of the London buildings of the time, Its value is above all in its location and, of course, in having been the home of the public corporation, an icon and a source of pride for the British.
The basement also housed the company’s Central Music Library, which had a collection of more than a million vinyl records. British Land acquired the building in 2001 and was then authorized to carry out a massive renovation, which took place after the public chain moved.
The works, which finished four years ago, were led by the architects of the BuckleyGrayYeoman studio, who explained that they decided to “preserve much of the original character of the building with the exposed brick and steel structure on the office floors”, while inside they bet on giving it an air of modernity, but without losing its essence. At the time, Matt Yeoman, Director of BuckleyGrayYeoman, said that “Yalding House has a fantastic history as the home of BBC Music and the work we have done ensures the future of the building as a desirable home for the innovative and creative companies that flock to Fitzrovia. ».
Sources from the insurer explained in a statement that “the transaction was carried out through the SIEREF-GLL fund, which the group launched with its managing partner GLL Real Estate Partners (Macquarie Group)” and clarified that “this is the second operation that is closed through this vehicle in just two weeks, after it was carried out a few days ago with the Clifford Chance headquarters in Luxembourg.
José Luis Jiménez, general director of investments at Mapfre, explained that this purchase is part of a diversification plan for its portfolio: «We are seeing attractive returns in offices in the most important areas of the main European cities, despite the Covid crisis -19, which makes it easier for us to diversify our portfolio towards these alternative assets in a context of interest rates at historic lows, “he explained.
Investments in “prime” real estate
The fund, created in the first quarter of 2018, plans to invest up to 300 million euros in “prime” properties in mainly European markets over a period of two or three years. Thus, the company not only welcomes the new acquisitions in London and Luxembourg, but has also bought other properties in such emblematic cities as Paris, Hamburg and Milan.
In total, according to the same sources, it already has about 200 million committed, that is, two thirds of the total. Under the agreement, Mapfre contributes 50% of the capital and the rest is distributed among a group of six institutional investors, mainly from the insurance and financial sectors and the GLL itself.
Mapfre also maintains a joint venture with Swiss Life Asset Managers France, as part of its real estate investment through funds. With them it has already reached the committed volume of 375 million euros with the purchase of several important buildings in Paris.
Added to this are other advances in the alternative investment segment, as the company launched two funds this year with the help of its partner Abante, “the first for private equity, for which it signed an agreement with Altamar, and another for infrastructures, which has as its underlying funds managed by Macquarie ”, an Australian financial giant, pointed out from the company, which was born in 1933 as the Mutual Insurance Company of the Agrupación de Fincas Rústicas de España in order to insure workers on farms agricultural.
It was, however, from 1955 onwards he opted for automobile insurance, a product that was not of interest to most insurers at the time, and since then its expansion into other fields has only grown.