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Brookfield pursues buyout of US$870 million London Wall offices

[LONDON] Brookfield Property Partners LP is in talks to buy out its partner in a US $870 million office complex in London's financial district that includes the global headquarters of Schroders Plc, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The North American property giant owns the recently completed London Wall Place development equally with Oxford Properties Group Inc. Oxford Properties -- the real estate arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, a major Canadian pension fund -- has been selling off stakes in London offices in recent years.

The talks are ongoing and there's no certainty that a transaction will be completed, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. Representatives of Brookfield and Oxford Properties declined to comment.

Brookfield Asset Management Inc., the largest shareholder in Brookfield Property Partners, is one of the world's largest real-estate investors, with US$194 billion of assets under management, according to the firm's website. It owns, develops and manages offices around the world, and also has holdings in retail, hotels, apartments and student housing.

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In the last four years, Oxford Properties has sold stakes in London offices including the Cheesegrater skyscraper, buildings on Paternoster Square, the MidCity Place development and the London headquarters of Nomura Holdings Inc. It's also considering selling its 50 per cent share in the Post Building, according to CoStar News.

Oxford Properties has been investing in real estate elsewhere in Europe, while buying up rental housing and warehouses in the UK. Last year, the fund bought a stake in Get Living, a London developer and manager of apartments that's backed by investors including the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar and Dutch pension fund APG All Pensions Group NV.

London Wall Place consists of two buildings. One London Wall Place, with 310,000 square feet (28,800 square meters) of office space, is leased entirely to Schroders. A smaller building is rented out to companies including Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, R3, IFM Investors and Barnett Waddingham. About 6 per cent of the building is empty, according to its website.

Brookfield bought the project from Hammerson Plc in 2012, and sold a half share to Oxford Properties shortly after closing the deal.

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