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Published on 1/11/2017 11:52:36 AM
Grab a central London postcode
UK property has traditionally had an allure for buyers from the Gulf - be it private investors, sovereign wealth funds or wealthy families. Gulf investors are now increasingly taking advantage of the devaluation of the pound as a result of the referendum to acquire trophy assets in the UK.

Dirham buyers as well as other GCC-based investors with currencies pegged to the US dollar are now in a better financial position to invest abroad to offset losses from the commodities slump. The decline in prices and the improvement in yields is leading to more interest in the UK from investors across the region looking to diversify their portfolios.

Affluent Gulf investors have been ploughing money into British bricks and mortar for decades, snapping up apartments that can be rented, held as investments or used as second homes. Commercial property on long-term leases has also been favoured by Gulf buyers.

Post Brexit, a private Qatari buyer purchased the Sony Headquarters building in London. The Qatar Investment Authority and Canada's Brookfield Property Partners acquired 100 per cent of London's Canary Wharf Group after buying out the remaining shareholders in 2015 for £2.6 billion.

A consortium of Saudi and UK investors have bid $1.3 billion for London's Grosvenor House hotel, owned by the Sahara Group.

Trophy purchases
Abu Dhabi's retail chain LuLu Group International has purchased the Great Scotland Yard building, one of London's iconic structures which is being converted into a five-star hotel. This is the second investment in London by LuLu Group managing director Yusuffali MA. He has also invested in the East India Company.

Qatari investors now own £1 billion of property in London's Mayfair district. Members of the Qatar royal family, Qatari investment funds as well as other Qatari nationals own over 4,300 homes, making the Gulf country the largest buyer and tenant group for luxury property in this area.

According to CBRE, Middle East investors spent $10 billion on international property in the first half of 2016.

So, if you are looking to own a postcode in central London, a buying opportunity has just cropped up. What's better, you have a chance to own a slice of British history since Centre Point is a Grade 2 listed building. The iconic 1960s skyscraper in London is now being refurbished and converted into 82 exclusive, luxury apartments.

Considering that this prime address is available to residents for the first time, prices come at a premium. The apartments ranging from a one-bedroom to a five-bedroom duplex penthouse are priced from £1.8 million to £55 million.

"We had a private afternoon high tea for a group of ladies in Dubai who are interested in buying in the UK to give them an overview of this development," says Victoria Garrett, associate partner, head of international project marketing (Mena) at Knight Frank.

Centre Point apartments offer views of the London skyline and landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament and St Paul's Cathedral. It will offer facilities akin to a five-star hotel with a concierge, spa, gym, pool and club lounge as well as shops and restaurants in the piazza on the ground floor.

"Some of the apartments have their own private lobby which is popular with buyers looking for privacy. The central location of the development is a big draw, bordering Covent Garden, Soho and Fitzrovia. Transport links will reach Heathrow in 30 minutes and Canary Wharf in 12 minutes when the new Crossrail station opens in 2018," informs Garrett.

The developer, Almacantar, expects to see an uplift in property values when the metroline is finished in 2018.

"We have seen price growth already in areas that have Crossrail stations. Centre Point will, in fact, be the only point across London where Crossrail 1 and 2 will meet when both lines are complete," adds Garrett.

The refurbishment of the tower is due for completion by the end of summer this year.