The landmark Express Towers building in Nariman Point, once the tallest building in South Asia, has been sold for close to Rs. 870 crore.
Anant Goenka, director of Indian Express, the newspaper group that owned the South Mumbai building along with ICICI Ventures, confirmed the sale.
“I can confirm that we have exited our real estate commercial assets in Nariman Point,” Mr. Goenka told this correspondent in a brief phone conversation. The change in ownership is said to have happened in May.
A source close to the sale said that Blackstone, a premier investment and advisory firm, also a tenant at Express Towers, had bought the iconic building along with Panchshil Realty, a Pune-based real estate developer.
“Upon completion in 1972, the 105 mt (metre) Express Towers became the tallest building in South Asia, ending the 9 years long rein of the 101mt tall Habib Bank Plaza in Karachi,” the website expresstowers.in said.
Commissioned by the founder of the Indian Express newspaper, Ramnath Goenka, who ran many a campaign against successive Congress governments, Express Towers was designed by American architect Joseph Allen Stein.
In the past few years, many large corporates like Hindustan Unilever and the Aditya Vikram Birla group, have exited the central business district in South Mumbai.
"Panchshil has a huge portfolio in Pune and wanted to diversify its portfolio and take advantage of the REITS (real estate investment trusts) rules that are likely to come in," a spokesperson of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) India, advisors to the transaction said.
REITs are listed companies that create public trusts and invest in leased office and retail assets and are expected to enter the Indian market soon. The income generated is distributed among stakeholders in the form of dividends and the public can buy units of the trusts.
(With additional reporting by Ramnath Subbu)