Capco completes £425m sale of Earls Court site

Property development giant Capital & Counties (Capco) has completed the £425 million sale of Earls Court to investment firms APG and Delancey.

Capco said the sale of the West London development site, which had seen its value halve over the past four years, will provide it with an initial £156 million cash boost followed by £211 million over the next two years.

The joint venture involving APG and Delancey snapped up the site ahead of retail tycoon Nick Candy, who had been in early talks with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund regarding a joint offer.

The Earls Court exhibition centre was knocked down by Capco in 2015 to make way for the development project.

FTSE 250 firm Capco said it will now convert to become a real estate investment trust (REIT) following the deal, as it focuses on its central London portfolio.

It said the move has strengthened its balance sheet and provides it with investment opportunities after recently spending £50 million on property acquisitions in Covent Garden.

In an update to investors, Capco said its West End locations have greater insulation from current “retail challenges”.

It said that “trading performance on the estate remains encouraging with footfall growth and average tenant sales continuing to trend upwards”.

The Earls Court site buyers said they will formulate an “entirely new London Plan” for the site, including more affordable homes than in the previous proposals.

Jamie Ritblat, founder and chief executive of Delancey, said: “As one of London’s most important mixed-use development opportunities, we are excited to have secured the opportunity to take this vital central London initiative forward and are proud to have been approved as a worthy custodian by the public sector partners already engaged.

“We firmly believe that, by virtue of its unrivalled connections, location and scale, Earls Court has the potential to be a world leading scheme, showcasing the best in sustainable, community focused and environmentally advanced design.”

Robert-Jan Foortse, head of European property investments at APG, said: “APG is delighted to be able to progress its investment programme into the UK with the purchase of Earls Court.

“This investment in the Earls Court development site in London fits the core of our strategy as it represents an attractive opportunity to gain access to high quality property with promising long-term growth potential.”

Shares in Capco rose 0.3% to 243.1p in early trading.