x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Legatum buys DIFC's Precinct Building 6

The Dubai building home to Rothschild and UBS has been bought by an investment group for about Dh200 million in a rare deal for the emirate's moribund office market.

Precinct Building 6 in the DIFC is one of the few freehold buildings not directly owned by the financial free zone. Randi Sokoloff / The National
Precinct Building 6 in the DIFC is one of the few freehold buildings not directly owned by the financial free zone. Randi Sokoloff / The National

The Dubai building that is home to Rothschild and UBS has been bought by an investment group for about Dh200 million (US$54.4m) in a rare deal for the emirate's moribund office market.

The global investment group Legatum has bought Precinct Building 6 of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) - one of the few freehold buildings not directly owned by the financial free zone.

The sale produced an investment yield of about 8 per cent according to a person close to the deal.

The nine-storey 128,000 square foot building is to be renamed Legatum Plaza and the firm plans to move into two floors that will form its new global headquarters.

"There are very few investment-grade, well-leased assets in Dubai, and there have not been many transactions to set a benchmark," said Gaurav Shivpuri, the regional head of capital markets for Jones Lang LaSalle, who advised on the sale of the building.

Dubai has seen a handful of investment deals involving prime office space since the downturn in property prices three years ago. Almost half of the emirate's 63 million sq ft of completed office space now lies empty, according to Knight Frank data.

It was hoped the construction of scores of high-rise office blocks in locations such as Business Bay, Downtown Burj Khalifa and Jumeirah Lake Towers would lead to a thriving property investment market attracting international pension funds and investment groups. But transactions involving Dubai office property have proved difficult outside of a few locations that offer so called "grade A" space - modern buildings with high-quality tenants such as international banks and law firms.

The lack of deals has meant there has not been a reliable benchmark yield for potential investors to consult to establish whether they are underpaying or overpaying for an asset.

The sale of Building 6 represents the most high-profile office transaction in the Dubai market since Emaar Properties sold one of its Emaar Square buildings near the Burj Khalifa nearly two years ago for about Dh331m.

The sale of that building generated an investment yield similar to that of Building 6 in DIFC.

Despite the glut of office space, brokers say demand remains strong for prime buildings in sought-after locations such as the DIFC.

"It underlines the demand that we are seeing for well-located, prime assets with good quality income," said Joseph Morris, an associate director in the investment team of Knight Frank.

scronin@thenational.ae

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