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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Lulu Group front-runner to buy original Scotland Yard premises in London

Lulu is said to have offered to pay more than £100m for the historic St James’s site which housed the UK capital’s police service from its inception in 1829 until 1890.

Abu Dhabi investors may soon be in control of not one but two of the former homes of London’s Metropolitan Police Force.

Lulu Group, the supermarket operator based in Abu Dhabi, has emerged as the latest front-runner to buy Great Scotland Yard, the original Scotland Yard headquarters, which is being converted into a plush hotel.

The news follows confirmation in December that Abu Dhabi Financial Group had paid £370 million (Dh1.98 billion) to acquire New Scotland Yard, the Met’s current headquarters on Victoria Street in Westminster.

The Met will move to a new headquarters at Victoria Embankment this year.

Lulu is said to have offered to pay more than £100m for the historic St James’s site which housed the UK capital’s police service from its inception in 1829 until 1890.

The leasehold to the address, where investigations into the likes of Jack the Ripper were centred, was acquired by the property developer Galliard in 2013 amid plans to convert the seven-storey building into a 235-room hotel by 2016.

When it bought the Grade II-listed Edwardian building which currently occupies the site, the Galliard chief executive Stephen Conway said that VIP suites at the new hotel, which is expected to open next year, could sell for up to £10,000 a night.

Lulu Group declined to comment when contacted by The National.

The company, which was founded by the Keralite M A Yusuff Ali, is currently building a Grand Hyatt hotel and convention centre in Kochi.

However, if the deal goes ahead the company may consider that it has snagged itself a bargain.

After talks broke down with sovereign wealth funds and ultra-high net worth individuals from a number of Arabian Gulf states, last September Malmaison hotel group, which is owned by the Denver-based private equity firm KSL, was reported to be in negotiations to buy the high-profile site for up to £200m.

In the 20th century, Great Scotland Yard served as the British Army recruitment office and royal military police headquarters before being used as a storage base for the ministry of defence. The building also featured in the 2007 movie Atonement, starring Keira Knightley.

lbarnard@thenational.ae

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