Edinburgh aerospace site sells for £100m to Korean investor

The Leonardo Innovation Hub deal marks the latest property investment by Asian groups in Scotland. Picture: Contributed
The Leonardo Innovation Hub deal marks the latest property investment by Asian groups in Scotland. Picture: Contributed
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An Edinburgh industrial site that is home to 1,800 workers has changed hands in one of the year’s biggest property investment deals.

The Leonardo Innovation Hub at the capital’s Crewe Toll has been sold to a South Korean investor for £100 million.

Knight Frank Investment Management, acting on behalf of the Asian buyer, purchased the site from owners Brockton Capital in an off-market transaction.

The sale of the 16-acre research and development complex, which is home to aerospace, defence and security group Leonardo, marks one of the largest Scottish property deals in recent years.

The site covers more than 439,000 square foot of office, laboratory and industrial space.

Leonardo is one of Edinburgh’s biggest employers, with around 1,800 staff based at Crewe Toll, and recently signed a new inflation linked 15-year lease at the hub where it has operated since 1943.

The nine-figure sale reflected a net initial yield of 5.9 per cent.

It is the latest example of Asia-based investors making prominent commercial property purchases in Scotland’s Central Belt.

In 2017 Glasgow’s Hillington Industrial Park changed hands for around £100m, acquired by Frasers Centrepoint, a Singaporean publicly listed real estate investment trust.

More recently, Edinburgh’s Gyle Square was purchased for just over £55m by South Korean Hyundai Asset Management.

Max Bassadone, director at Brockton, said: “Following the acquisition of Crewe Toll East & West in 2014, we have been working with Leonardo to restructure their lease, ensuring their 75-year history with the site continues.

“The successful restructure advised by JLL fulfilled our asset management plan and we are delighted to now complete the off-market sale with the site’s new owner.”

David Johnson, partner at Knight Frank Investment Management, said: “We are very pleased to have completed this important acquisition for our client.

“Crewe Toll offers secure income at an attractive rental level with strong future performance prospects. We continue to seek similar off-market opportunities in the UK and Europe.”

JLL, Eastdil Secured and Brodies represented Brockton Capital on the sale, while Knight Frank and CMS advised the buyer.

The Crewe Toll site has been used as a manufacturing and development facility since 1944 and was redeveloped between 2000 and 2003.

Today it produces equipment including lasers for the US Army’s Apache helicopter, the Osprey radar for Norway’s all-weather search and rescue helicopters, and the Raven radar for Sweden’s Saab Gripen Fighter aircraft.

The site has previously been known as the industrial and laboratory complex of defence group BAE Systems.