The bizarrely shaped "Can of Ham" office tower could yet add to the City skyline after one of the world's biggest pension funds agreed to buy it out of administration.
Teachers Anuity and Insurance Association – College Retirement Equities Fund, which invests on behalf of 3.5 million teachers and doctors in the US, has bought the site of the proposed block out of the remnants of the failed Targetfollow empire, after agreeing terms with the administrator, Deloitte, last week.
The Can scheme, designed by Foggo Associates, is at 60-70 St Mary Axe, close to where Lord Foster's Gherkin, at 30 St Mary Axe. Construction of the 90m (295ft) tower would complete the most modern part of the City.
Teachers already owns 60 St Mary Axe and buying 70 gives it total control of the development. It is thought the fund is paying more than £20m for the site.
Deloitte has sold chunks of the Targetfollow property portfolio to recover money for Lloyds, which had £693m of loans outstanding.
Targetfollow was owned by the Iranian entrepreneur Ardeshir Naghshineh. Talks with Lloyds deteriorated over the valuation of the portfolio, which Targetfollow argued was worth around £700m. The bank was willing to sell the London portfolio for £425m, but bids did not reach this and two of the Targetfollow Group subsidiaries were placed into administration in October. Mr Naghshineh no longer has control over any of the properties dealt with by Deloitte.
So far, Deloitte has sold buildings and sites in Birmingham, Stockport, Norwich and London.
Almacantar, which was set up by former Land Securities executive Mike Hussey in 2009, entered talks last month to buy from the portfolio the Grade-II listed Centrepoint – in London's West End – for more than £120m. Deloitte has now worked up a strategy for the remaining buildings to "maximise value" for Lloyds.
Teachers has been gearing up in the City and will be hoping to quickly advance plans for the Can site to hit the current wave of City office development. It also has plans for a redevelopment and extension of Angel Court in the City.
Following a hiatus during the recession, when proposed property schemes in the City were put on hold, developers found joint venture partners last year to fund their projects. More than six skyscrapers are now either under construction or about to be built.
Skyscrapers including The Leadenhall Building, 20 Fenchurch Street and London Bridge Place have been called names such as the Cheese Grater, Walkie Talkie tower and the Shard. Speaking about the Can of Ham site, City planning officer Peter Rees said: "The City welcomed the design of the site by the previous owner but inevitably new owners will review designs and methods of construction."
The site cannot accommodate a taller building than the Can due to the risk of compromising views of the Tower of London.