‘Business as usual’ after £2.6bn take-over bid for Canary Wharf goes ahead

Canary Wharf's North Quay

Canary Wharf's North Quay - Credit: Archant

The massive Canary Wharf business and shopping district is being sold in a £2.6 billion deal after a three-month take-over battle by Middle East and Canadian investors.

Canary Wharf's nighrt skyline

Canary Wharf's nighrt skyline - Credit: Archant

But the potential new owners promise “business as usual” in east London’s bustling Docklands commercial zone as its charismatic chairman Sir George Iacobescu is likely to continue.

Songbird, the owners of Canary Wharf Group, finally gave in to the battle for control of the commercial estate that has been going on since November.

The bid comes from Canadian investor Brookfield Properties and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Songbird owns almost 70 per cent of Canary Wharf Group, now expanding for the first time since the 2008 banking crisis. Plans have been approved for 30 more buildings, including 3,100 homes at Wood Wharf which expands Canary Wharf eastward into Blackwall and the Isle of Dogs.

The Canary Wharf estate was created by the Canadian magnate Paul Reichmann who negotiated an ambitious deal with the London Docklands Development Corporation set up in 1981 after the Millwall and East India Docks closed down.

The-then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was keen to bring in the Canadians to rejuvenate London’s Docklands.

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But the Canadian property tycoon bowed out in 2004 after a takeover battle when Songbird, a consortium led by Morgan Stanley, took over Canary Wharf Group.

Now the Canadians are back, with their Quatar investment partners, and the 34-year history of Canary Wharf has turned full circle.

The Quataris already own nearly 30 per cent of Songbird through a bailout in 2009 in the wake of the financial crisis.

The latest take-over will have little effect on the day-to-day running of east London’s bustling financial district, after its potential new owners promised “business as usual”.