Canary Wharf timeline: from the Thatcher years to Qatari control
Docklands estate, now home to financial heavyweights, is the creation of Canadian tycoon Paul Reichmann.
Canary Wharf is to be bought by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and Canadian investor Brookfield Properties for £2.6bn after Songbird, the owner of the Docklands estate, admitted defeat.
Canary Wharf takes its name from the quay where fruit and veg from the Mediterranean and Canary islands was once unloaded. The disused Docklands site, formed by a loop in the Thames, was turned into a second financial district to rival the City of London after 1987.
Cleveland Bridge, CanaryWharf, Londres
Concluída em junho de 2013
Today, Canary Wharf’s cluster of skyscrapers in east London is home to some of the world’s biggest banks, such as Citigroup and HSBC.
The 244m Canary Wharf skyscraper at One Canada Square, topped by a pyramid, was the first tower to rise out of the docks in 1990. It was Britain’s tallest building for two decades until it was overtaken by the Shard in 2010 (architecture critics thought it was too tall and Thatcher and Prince Charles didn’t like it either).
The first tenants moved to Canary Wharf in 1991. The banks Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse First Boston, HSBC and Citigroup, and the Financial Services Authority all moved to the Docklands in subsequent years. Barclays was the last clearing bank to leave Lombard Street in the City for Canary Wharf, in 2005. Much of Fleet Street also decamped east, including the Telegraph, the Mirror and the Independent, although only the Mirror remains.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing. In 1992, following a property crash, Olympia & York filed for bankruptcy and Canary Wharf was placed in administration.
Undaunted, three years later Reichmann pulled together a consortium of wealthy investors (including Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and the American media mogul Larry Tisch) to buy Canary Wharf back from the banks for £800m.
As the property market recovered and more firms moved to the Docklands, the business floated on the London stock market.
Reichmann finally lost control of Canary Wharf during a fierce 11-month takeover battle, ending his 20-year involvement with the project. Canary Wharf Group was acquired by Songbird Estates, a consortium led by US investment bank Morgan Stanley.
The Qatari Investment Authority became a major Songbird shareholder, after coming to the company’s rescue with China’s sovereign wealth fund in 2009, when Songbird almost collapsed under the weight of its debts.
Canary Wharf is now spreading east, the first expansion of the estate since the 2008 financial crisis. There are plans for 30 buildings at Wood Wharf, including a 57-storey cylindrical residential skyscraper facing the waters of South Dock, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the Swiss architects behind Tate Modern and the Bird’s Nest in Beijing.
The eastern extension is set to almost double the number of people working and living in the area within the next 10 years. It will get a big boost from Crossrail, the £16bn railway running east-west across London that is due to open in 2018.