Lord Sugar turns a £50m profit on West End block

 

The Apprentice star Lord Sugar has sold a Mayfair office block for almost £50 million more than he bought it for just five years ago.

The tycoon’s privately owned property business Amsprop Estates has been offered almost £80 million for 2 Harewood Place, just west of Oxford Circus, by a Hong Kong investor.

Amsprop paid just £31 million for the 18,000 sq ft of office space in February 2008 but has since completed a major refurbishment.

Property experts said the two-and-a-half fold increase in price is the latest indicator of how a wall of foreign investment money is pushing up commercial prices in the West End.

One source told Estates Gazette magazine: “Amsprop had not been looking to sell its trophy West End building, but a shrewd investor it is not going to turn away the option of making a nearly £50 million profit.”

The buyer is a Hong Kong property investor, which is building up a long-term portfolio of income-generating assets in the capital.

It is already a veteran shop investor in Hong Kong, and made its last significant London purchase in 2010, paying £38 million for 221/223 Oxford Street, which is let to retailer Bershka.

Lord Sugar’s Amsprop completed a Linda Morey Smith-designed refurbishment of 2 Harewood Place a year ago.

Tenants that have recently signed include recruitment firms Office Angels and MacDonald & Co, as well as Starwood Capital. The ground floor is let to shoes retailer Skechers.

One West End investment agent said: “For some of these major Asian players, there are billions of pounds ready to invest, so they believe that even if they are paying a high price, it is worth it for the capital growth they will get from buildings in the West End.”

Competitive bidding for West End buildings is set to continue as supply dries up.

Last month just £212 million of property was put up for sale in the West End, compared with £248 million in April 2012, according to Strutt & Parker.

Some agents at Mipim in March forecast that turnover this year could fall to around £4 billion, which is a drop of about a quarter on 2012 figures.

It is estimated that £22.5 billion in cash is chasing just £2.6 billion of property on the market in the West End and the City.

Amsprop declined to comment.

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