Financial steal: Abu Dhabi investors snap up Scotland Yard
In a deal announced on Tuesday, the Abu Dhabi Financial Group, a multi-billion dollar alternative investment firm, paid nearly 50 percent more than the asking price for the famous building according to London Mayor Boris Johnson.
The firm will renovate the building into flats, offices and a hotel by 2017, reports suggest.
The Metropolitan Police will move from their famous home to the newly refurbished Curtis Brown building, only a short distance from New Scotland Yard.
The move, intended to save the Met £6 million a year, marks the end of an era for the London police service, which has been inextricably linked to the name Scotland Yard, its original home.
An article in the New York Times in 1964 said: “Just as Wall Street stamped its name on the financial world of New York … so Scotland Yard stamped its name on police activity in London.”
The name has found its way in to works of literature and the public imagination alike, with prominent fictional police characters basing themselves at Scotland Yard.
The Metropolitan Police have saved £125 million in recent years through the sale of 52 separate buildings. The savings they will make from their change of location will be the equivalent of the salary of 130 serving police officers.
The Mayor of London appears undaunted by the sale of Scotland Yard to foreign investors. “There was no economic difference between having an investor from Abu Dhabi or having the BP pension fund do this,” said Johnson.
“Anybody who thinks otherwise is, I’m afraid, completely economically illiterate,” he added.
The proceeds from the sale are expected to pay for new tablets, smartphones and body cameras for officers.
Johnson said the deal “allows us to preserve the past whilst giving today’s Met a vital cash boost.”
The recent deal is the latest in a spate of foreign investments in London properties by the global elite.
In December, it was revealed the Qatari Royal family had purchased three of the most exclusive properties in Regent’s Park with the aim of converting them into a £200 million mega-mansion.
The Qatari Royals, who already own famous London landmarks including the Shard, Harrods and the Olympic Park, now own more property than the Crown Estate.
Following the trend, the iconic “Gherkin” was sold to Brazilian banking billionaire Josef Safra for a reported £726 million, in October.
Other properties, both commercial and residential, are currently in the process of being sold off to foreign investors. Even government buildings, such as Admiralty Arch near Trafalgar Square, which is currently on a £60 million lease for conversion into a hotel and club, are being pawned to wealthy foreigners.
The last official report into the capital’s property ownership found 51 percent of the City is owned by foreign nationals. The “Who Owns The City?” report was published in 2011, but the recent surge of international activity suggests it may now be higher.