Corestate Capital and Everton FC majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri are set to pocket a £42m profit from the £90m sale of the iconic Royal Liver Building in Liverpool. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool’s iconic Royal Liver Building, one of the world-famous Three Graces on the city’s waterfront, is up for sale with a price tag of £90m.
Once the tallest office building in Europe, the Grade I-listed building was completed in July 1911. It was opened as the purpose-built headquarters of the fast-growing Royal Liver Assurance society, which had been set up in 1850.
In 2011, the Royal Liver Group was taken over by Royal London Group in a deal that also included ownership of the Royal Liver Building. By that point, Royal Liver staff occupied only part of the site with other floors let out to multiple business tenants.
In 2016 Royal London put the building up for sale with a price tag of £40m. In February 2017 Luxembourg-based investor Corestate Capital acquired the building for £48m. It was later revealed that its joint partner in the deal was Farhad Moshiri, who currently owns around 93% of Everton Football Club.
He described it at the time as a “world class property”, adding: “Following my investment in Everton last year, I am confident in the prospects for Liverpool as a thriving international city and am pleased that I have been able to make this investment in such a landmark building with potential for further improvement.”
During the five years of their ownership that building has undergone a significant refurbishment of the office and common areas. It now also has its own visitor attraction centre – RLB 360 Tower Tour – which allows the public to explore its iconic history through a fully immersive experience.
It is multi-let to several blue-chip companies including Princes Foods, HSBC, Mott MacDonald, Grant Thornton and Everton FC. Now Corestate and Mr Moshiri are keen to cash in on the appreciation in value of the building and have instructed CBRE to find a buyer. If they achieve their £90m asking price then that would represent a profit margin of 87.5%.
It has been a busy few weeks for the buying and selling of Liverpool office buildings. In late February No 5 St Paul’s Square, a 136,000 sq ft block in Liverpool, was put on the market by Abrdn for £34.8m.
That news came shortly after it was revealed that 101 Old Hall Street, which houses the HM Passport Office, had been sold by Palm Capital to London investor Priory RE for £39m. And on March 1 it was reported Shelborn Asset Management was looking to sell No 1 Tithebarn for £18.7m.
Colin Thomasson, executive director, investment properties, at CBRE, said: “We are truly honoured to be mandated to sell the Royal Liver Building, the most recognisable office building in the North of England and an icon on the global stage.
“It is an exceptional investment opportunity which offers investors the chance to not only own a piece of history but also a property with considerable potential to add further value and continue the refurbishment programme the current owners have already executed.
“With grade A office supply in Liverpool currently at an all time low and rising occupier demand, we anticipate strong demand amongst investors for the asset.”
In 1850, a group of working men sat in the Lyver Inn in Liverpool and formed the Liverpool Lyver Burial Society to “provide for the decent internment of deceased members”.
By the end of the 1850s the society had expanded rapidly and was offering death benefits to people across the country. In 1907 it had more than 6,000 employees and a decision was taken to build a new headquarters in Liverpool.
Designed by architect Walter Aubrey Thomas, described as “the most individual Liverpool architect of the early 1900s”, the foundation stone was laid May 11, 1908, and the building was officially opened by Lord Sheffield on July 19, 1911. Now it sits as one of the Three Graces – the other two being Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building.
It is an early example of a building constructed using reinforced concrete. It stands 322 ft tall to the top of the spires and 340 ft to the top of the famous Liver Birds, known as Bertie and Bella. Each Liver Bird is 18 ft high and, according to legend, if the birds were ever to fly away then the city would die.