Qatari property developers have secured fresh funding for one of London's highest-profile tower projects - the Shard of Glass at London Bridge - with the loan of an undisclosed sum from Qatari Diar, the state-owned real estate company.
As other London skyscraper projects are shelved, construction of the Shard - which at more than 1,000ft would be the tallest building in Europe - now looks assured. The development is led by a consortium of four Qatari companies plus Sellar Property Group.
Qatari Diar, owned by the emirate's sovereign wealth fund, is not a consortium member. But it is connected with the Qatari companies involved, one person close to the project said.
LBQ, the development consortium, said the loan from Qatari Diar was "a major part of our overall financing requirement" for a project that is estimated to cost about £2bn. LBQ added that the tower plus a smaller building, London Bridge Place, will now be completed on schedule in 2012.
The loan comes a month after Qatari Diar bought control of the Chelsea Barracks project, a high-end scheme conceived by Nick and Christian Candy, developers for the super- rich. The brothers also sold Qatari Diar their interest in the Grosvenor Waterside project.
No details of the terms of these deals were revealed. Nor was the size of the loan to LBQ.
"This further financial commitment by Qatari Diar to London's real estate market underscores our conviction that, despite its current challenges, London remains one of the most important real estate markets in the world", the company said, adding that it always took "a long-term view."
If completed the Shard, designed by Renzo Piano, would alter London's skyline more prominently than any tower yet built. Most of the tower would be office space, but the upper floors would include a Shangri La hotel and luxury flats from which, promotional material claims, one could see France.
The loan did not imply financial trouble for the Shard's developers, LBQ said. "This is simply a natural stage in project financing."
By William MacNamara
The Financial Times
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