AN advisory firm has accused Transport for London (TfL) and its advisers of mishandling the £120 million sale of its Grade I-listed headquarters.
The transport authority sold its offices in the heart of Westminster to a property investor Integrity International Group in August.
Integrity International, the selected purchaser, is led by Tony Matharu.
Advisory firm JPW Real Estate had bid for the property on behalf of a large property company in India.
JPW Real Estate managing director Simon Wainwright has accused the transport body and its advisers of giving the selected purchaser preferential treatment.
He also accused them of not acting in the best interests of the public and said a matching offer made by his client was ignored.
JPW Real boss also cited a potential conflict of interest between Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP), the experts advising TfL on the sale, and the selected purchaser, Integrity International.
BCLP, TfL’s lawyers, advised Matharu and his brothers on the Grange Hotels sale.
In one of the UK’s largest hotel deals, Matharu, 59, and his two brothers sold the Grange Hotel portfolio of four luxury London hotels for almost £1 billion this year.
Grange Hotels was founded by Raj Matharu, 61, Harpal Matharu, 62, and Tony Matharu 58.
Wainwright was quoted by The Times: “This is no way for a public body to conduct a tender for the sale of a major asset. There was a deliberate attempt to exclude my client from the bidding process at the outset and a complete lack of interest in even discussing my client’s offer despite the sale to another party being concluded at precisely the same cash level as our offer, and ignoring the additional carried interest that my client offered TfL. One month on, and we are still awaiting confirmation that my client’s offer was unsuccessful.”
Meanwhile, TfL challenges the claim. It said the claims were completely wrong, and it organised a fair and open process to sell 55 Broadway office complex.
It further added that it secured over £120 million that will be reinvested into improving the transport network and providing new homes in London.
Graeme Craig, Director of Commercial Development at TfL said: JPW Real Estate “only submitted a conditional offer two months after the sale process had begun, which TfL considered to be weaker in a number of ways than two good offers already received from high-quality parties.
“Following detailed due diligence and having taken our professional advisers’ advice, we went on to make what we believe to be the best decision on the sale and future of 55 Broadway.”