Columbia

Station Road
Bracknell

Acquired in JV with Henderson Global Investors, this purchase represents the 5th successive transaction with Henderson.

Columbia was the final asset within the Institutional fund which was in the process of being solvently liquidated and the vendor was therefore very motivated to sell. Having acquired the property 5 years previously, the vendor had undertaken significant works to the property during its ownership to include replacement of the majority of the M&E plant.

With JLT having recently removed their break, the property would remain cash flow positive throughout the marketing and letting of the vacant accommodation. BHP has tendered a modernisation of the common parts and external aesthetics and will be commencing the works in the autumn of 2014.

Coupled with an improving occupational story and the actual commencement of the much discussed town centre regeneration, it was felt that rental growth would be witnessed during any period of ownership, providing the opportunity to achieve above average returns for the fund.

STRENGTHS

  • The Bracknell office market was showing signs of improvement from a very low base
  • Vendor had recently replaced the majority of the M&E
  • JLT had removed their break and 50% of the building was let for another 7 years
  • Limited CAPEX required to reposition the asset

OPPORTUNITIES

  • Reposition the asset through modernisation of the elevations and common parts
  • An ability to recoup some of the refurbishment costs through service charge recovery
  • Improve income through letting of vacant accommodation

WEAKNESSES

  • Void costs / risk in respect of the 50% vacant accommodation
  • The property was viewed negatively by the agency market
  • CAPEX necessary prior to any letting of vacant accommodation

Threats

  • A large vacancy rate of offices remains within Bracknell
  • Bracknell remains associated with bargain rental deals by the agency community
  • Void costs reduce net income