Ministers Lure Spanish To Buy Admiralty Arch
Admiralty Arch, one of Central London's most famous landmarks, is to be sold to a Spanish property developer in a deal expected to net more than £60m for taxpayers.
I understand that Rafael Serrano has seen off competition from rival bidders including state-backed funds from the Gulf states of Abu Dhabi and Qatar, as well as the billionaire Reuben brothers.
The deal, which is expected to be announced by the Cabinet Office this week, will involve Mr Serrano acquiring a 70-year lease on Admiralty Arch, which he will then spend tens of millions of pounds on converting it into a hotel.
Admiralty Arch, which links Trafalgar Square and the Mall, marked the centenary of its construction this year. It was commissioned by King Edward VII in memory of his mother, Queen Victoria.
Prime Investors Capital, Mr Serrano's vehicle, has been involved in other London real estate projects. It built the Bulgari hotel which opened recently.
The sale of Admiralty Arch forms part of a broader push by the Government to generate revenue from its vast property portfolio. It set up a specialist unit, called the Property Executive, to take a more commercial approach to managing publicly-owned real estate assets, although there have been relatively few disposals so far.
A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "Leasing Admiralty Arch will preserve the heritage of the building, provide options for increasing public access, and offer value for money for the taxpayer. This is part of a wider programme of reform that resulted in cash savings of £5.5bn last year. We will be making an announcement on the future of the Arch shortly."