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Malaysia's PNB expects to finalise talks to buy Battersea assets in Q4

Fund may seek another extension to continue ongoing "positive" discussions, adds CEO

Kuala Lumpur

MALAYSIA'S largest asset management firm, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), expects talks to acquire commercial assets within London's Battersea Power Station to complete in the fourth quarter of this year, its CEO said on Thursday.

The ongoing talks are "positive" and the fund may seek another extension to continue the discussions, PNB's chief executive Abdul Rahman Ahmad said.

The government-linked fund, alongside state pension fund Employees Provident Fund (EPF), had in January proposed to buy the Power Station building within phase two of the development for a total of £1.608 billion (S$2.9 billion). The asset consists mainly of retail and office spaces.

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Both funds first agreed last month to extend the period for talks until Sept 30.

"We are still in the process of finalising the transaction, we are nearly completing our due diligence exercise. We would probably have better clarity in the fourth quarter," Mr Abdul Rahman told reporters at a briefing.

Malaysian property firms S P Setia Bhd and Sime Darby Property Bhd as well as EPF acquired the decommissioned coal-fired power station in 2012 through a competitive bid, taking on the redevelopment of the iconic real estate due to be completed in 2020.

EPF directly owns 20 per cent in the project through the consortium, while PNB is a majority shareholder in S P Setia and Sime Darby Property.

Built in the 1930s, the power station stopped operating in 1983 and gradually fell into disrepair. Multiple attempts to redevelop it fell through due to costs and practical difficulties in converting the gigantic site.

Back in 2016, Apple announced plans to move its London headquarters to the power station in 2021.

However, Apple has been quietly making contingency plans in case construction is delayed, the Times reported last week.

PNB also said on Thursday it has grown its total asset under management by 7.3 per cent year-on-year to RM288.1 billion (S$95.1 billion) as at Aug 31. REUTERS