A Chinese company is buying the Cheesegrater, one of London’s most recognisable landmarks for just over a billion pounds.Back in 1967, an entrepreneur from Missouri, Robert McCulloch bought London Bridge, took the bridge down, brick by brick, making sure to number each brick, and shipped it to the US, and eventually transported it to Arizona, where it was re-assembled. At the time, a rumour went around that Mr McCulloch bought the wrong bridge, and in fact he thought he was buying the more recognisable Tower Bridge, although this was denied.
Now CC Land, which is owned by Chinese property magnet Cheung Chung-kiu, is in the process of buying the Cheesegrater, which is more formally known as the Leadenhall Building, for £1.02 billion.
However, unlike that occasion in the 1960s, the building is staying where it is.
The building was completed in 2013 – and promptly leapt into the record books (assuming buildings can leap) for the level of the rents that were charged to occupants – mainly insurance companies.
It is the second largest transaction for a single UK building, with only the HSBC Tower fetching more – with the most recent sale of that building occurring in 2014, to the Qatar Investment Authority.
The Cheesegrater is currently owned by British Land.
The purchase rather goes against the grain, with investments by Chinese property companies falling by 84 per cent in January in the wake of moves by the Chinese government to tighten up on rules relating to Chinese capital being invested abroad, restricting speculation.
But the purchase does seem to be something of an endorsement of post Brexit UK – and good to know that these days, investors buy into London, rather than try and ships bits of it away like they did with London Bridge.