University College London (UCL), University of Cambridge

Real Estate Tax

The global financial crisis has been a catalyst for change in the commercial real estate market, with investors seeking secure income streams from prime and ‘super-prime’ real estate assets. The UK remains a top investment target for many, with inward investment activity increasing and advantageous tax treatments for overseas investors investing in UK real estate.

Other factors, such as low interest rates encouraging redevelopment of outdated stock across the sector and the shift towards sustainable development, are promising. The fall in construction activity over the last five years has also created a backlog of demand for new buildings and new asset classes (such as residential) continue to attract interest and capital.

Our real estate tax team is the leading tax team in the legal industry and an integral part of the firm’s real estate practice. We advise on a range of real estate transactions, including property acquisitions, developments, leasing and holding structures, investments for residents and non-residents, funds, joint ventures, property company takeovers, listings and M&A. We pride ourselves on being able to deliver highly innovative, user friendly tax advice for clients. Through our non-UK offices and expansive network of preferred firms, we can help clients wherever they are based in the world.

We advise banks, developers, investors, private clients with real estate assets, funds (including sovereign wealth funds), corporate occupiers, hotels, student accommodation providers and government agencies. Example clients include Land Securities, Delancey, Quintain, Blackstone, Exemplar, National Pension Service of Korea, Canary Wharf, Olympic Delivery Authority, Transport for London and Oxford Properties.


Our work, both within the UK and across multiple jurisdictions, includes:

  • Real estate acquisitions and disposals
  • Real estate finance
  • SDLT and VAT planning
  • Development
  • Joint ventures

Latest examples of work

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      The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Hong Kong

      The fund was advised on the purchase of a shopping centre in West London, which is part of an ambitious £1bn plan to turn Bayswater’s Queensway area into a “Covent Garden of the West” by 2020.
      Tax and structuring advice to a Dutch property fund on the acquisition of a property holding SPV which was migrated from Hong Kong to Guernsey. Further advice was given on the tax aspects of setting up a Luxembourg holding structure, obtaining senior debt finance at acquisition and restructuring the debt into senior and mezzanine loans. 

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      United Kingdom

      Advising the joint venture between Canary Wharf and Land Securities to develop the “Walkie Talkie” building at 20 Fenchurch Street. The proposed 37 storey building will include approximately 690,000 sq ft of world class space with a skygarden on the top three floors. Completion of the project is anticipated in 2014.

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      Creation of a new REIT, Peregrine, Guernsey, UK

      Advised Peregrine on the creation of a new Guernsey listed but UK tax resident REIT (ApexHi), one of the few examples of a new fund establishing itself as a REIT.

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      Purchase and future development of Admiralty Arch

      Advised the client generally on all tax issues involved. Admiralty Arch is the iconic building that provides an entrance to the Mall.

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      Releasing value from property portfolio, Tesco, UK

      We have a longstanding role with Tesco and we have continued to advise on the multi-billion pound programme of releasing value from their property portfolio. We have advised on a series of off balance joint ventures with sales and operating leasebacks funded by securitised debt, as well as other transactions including a £450.5m commercial mortgage backed security (CMBS) issue in January 2012.

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      Acquisition of Green Park, Oxford Property Group

      Advised Oxford Property Group on the structuring of their acquisition of the Green Park complex in Reading from Prudential Assurance Company.

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      Acquisition of student housing, Round Hill Capital

      Advised Round Hill Capital on its purchase of Nido student accommodation business from the private equity firm Blackstone. The deal, worth £415m, is one of the largest structured corporate real estate transactions since the start of the downturn. BLP advised Round Hill on all aspects of the deal, which included the financing, structuring and tax issues.

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      Purchase transaction, National Pension Service

      Advised the South Korean sovereign wealth fund on the tax aspects of the share purchase from HSBC of an SPV owner of the HSBC tower at 8 Canada Square and on associated asset management arrangements with JP Morgan Asset Management.

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