The Gherkin sold to Brazilian billionaire Joseph Safra

The Gherkin, one of London’s most recognisable skyscrapers, has been bought by the billionaire Brazilian banker Joseph Safra, in a deal thought to be worth more than £700m.

Safra, who has a $14.9bn (£9.4bn) fortune according to Forbes magazine, bought 30 St Mary’s Axe – better known as the Gherkin – from the receivers. No price was disclosed but the Financial Times said Safra paid £726m(£) for the 180m Norman Foster-designed tower.

“While only ten years old, this building is already a London icon that is distinguished from others in the market, with excellent value growth potential,” Safra Group said in a statement. “We intend to make the building even better and more desirable through active ownership that will lead to a range of enhancements that will benefit tenants.”

The building was put up for sale earlier this year with a guide price of £650m after its previous owners, private equity firm Evans Randall and German property investor IVG, defaulted on a loan. They bought the tower from reinsurer Swiss Re – the largest tenant – for £600m in 2007.

The Gherkin is the second-tallest tower in the City of London and the sixth-highest in London. The glass dome at the very top of the building – which boasts 360 degree views of London – can be hired out for business functions and weddings. Tickets for a New Year’s Eve party in the dome cost £290 per person for people who are not members of Searcy’s, the club that runs the top three floors of the Gherkin.

Safra, 74, was born into a rich banking family in Lebanon. The family moved to São Paulo, Brazil, in 1952. Joseph Safra founded Banco Safra, now Brazil’s eighth biggest bank in 1955.

Safra Group recently announced a $1.3bn deal to buy US banana giant Chiquita in partnership with Brazilian juice company Cutrale.

Powered by article was written by Rupert Neate, for The Guardian on Monday 10th November 2014 12.09 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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