ITV buys Television Centre HQ

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ITV beat off stiff competition to buy its own headquarters and studios at London Television Centre for £56 million, it was announced yesterday.

Coal Pension Properties sold the freehold after it put the South Bank site up for sale last year. The price tag was estimated at £45m, and was thought to have attracted more than 50 bidders over the Christmas period.

The 22-storey tower and studio complex, home to programmes such as The Jonathan Ross Show and Loose Women, was built in the early 1970s for London Weekend Television.

The broadcaster could pay the pension fund-owned property group up to £6.5m more if there is “substantial” redevelopment of the 2.5 acre site over the next ten years.

ITV had been locked into a 56-year lease on the studios. The purchase gives the broadcaster “flexibility in its property strategy” as it continues to “rebalance”, the company said.

In July ITV revealed it had swung to a positive net cash position of £92m, compared with debts of £612m in 2009.

The company has previously announced plans to spend £70m to £80m refurbishing its facilities in Leeds and relocating its northern studios in Quay Street, Manchester to MediaCity in Salford.

LaSalle Investment Management acted for Coal Pension Properties.

Another famous broadcast site, the BBC’s Television Centre in London’s White City, will be redeveloped with funds provided by a £50m finance package from the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Developer Stanhope, which acquired the site in a £200m deal last year, will use the additional funding to “assist with the purchase” as well as secure planning permission for its redevelopment into residential, office and leisure space. The BBC will also maintain a presence on the site. The initial deal was financed by Canadian pension fund Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) and Japanese property fund, Mitsui Fudosan.

David Camp, chief executive of London-based Stanhope, said RBS had “created the ideal, bespoke package to help us fulfil our ambitions for the area”.