Tŷ Hywel – is the mystery that deep?

The BBC reports on the Welsh Assembly Mystery Landlord:

The assembly’s rent for the Ty Hywel building in Cardiff Bay will rise nearly 30% next year from £1.7m. (To £2.3m – Dewi)
It is paid to Crick Properties Ltd, registered in Douglas, Isle of Man, but assembly authorities cannot say who the ultimate owner of the building is.

and further on:

Ty Hywel, originally called Crickhowell House, was built in the 1990s by Grosvenor Waterside, the property arm of Associated British Ports, which owned large areas of land around the newly reclaimed Cardiff Bay.
The Welsh Office took out a lease on the building and it was transferred to the assembly in 1999. It housed the assembly’s debating chamber until the Senedd was completed in 2006.
After being sold by Grosvenor Waterside to insurance giant Aviva, the assembly had the opportunity to buy the building outright in 2009, but decided against it because funds were not available.
It was then sold for £31m to a company set up in the Isle of Man specifically for the purpose. Because of the way this company – Crick Properties Ltd – is structured, it is difficult to find out who is the ultimate owner.

Except thanks to a H/T from Mark McGregor we find a brochure from
Aprirose Ltd, which lists their property portfolio. On page 4 we find:

….Crickhowell House, Cardiff, UK
High quality office building located in Cardiff Waterside, the city’s premier office location where there is near 100% occupancy. Home to the Welsh National Assembly (Government of Wales)

And from their own website (copyright Aprirose 2011) we find a picture of Tŷ Hywel. Unless something has changed in the last month or so could it be the case that Crick Properties Ltd is (as the name suggests) a special vehicle set up by Aprirose to deal with Tŷ  Hywel income?

I hasten quickly to add that no illegality or wrongdoing would be involved in such a set up.

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  • Rory Carr

    Aprirose has a reputation for transparency…

    “Openness and clear communication create mutual understanding…” (from the Aprirose Ltd. brochure linked above)

    Crystal clear then, except to the BBC it seems.

  • Why am I suspicious and wonder if all the above is the whole story?

    Aprirose is a vehicle of one Mansukh Gudka, formerly (I believe) of Kenya. It is based in the seclusion of Edgware High Street.

    Now look at the precise formula of words used: Today Aprirose has over £1bn of commercial and residential real estate under management. Our investment portfolio is larger than that of some of the well-known institutions.

    For over twenty years we have been exceeding clients‘ expectations.

    That has a sniff of being a front, managing investments on behalf of A.N.Other. Perhaps the Beeb is unsure of what is properly “on the piste” (David Cameron’s other PMQ term of the day).

  • Dewi

    Maybe Malcolm, and maybe Apripose itself is heavily backed by others. What is strange, however, is that neither the BBC or the Welsh Government seem to have got this far….

  • Dewi and Malcolm, the funding partner is named on the Aprirose website: Aviva. The 30% rent increase might provide a welcome boost for the ‘struggling’ insurance company: Operating profit in Europe up 21% to £525m

  • “Unless something has changed in the last month”

    Is it significant that Aprirose is also taking rent from Zurich Life offices in Douglas in the Isle of Man? I can find no mention of Crick Properties Limited in the Isle of Man.

  • Yes, I saw the link to Aviva. Ahem, Mr Speaker, I must declare an interest. I once had a few shares therein, as a result of a Norwich Union mortgage, and which this socialist sold at the height of the market. Heh, heh!

    Then there is the report in the Western Mail, 27 March 2009:

    Ty Hywel, which is home to 850 staff, forms part of Morley Fund Management’s Cardiff Waterside Estate.

    Morley, part of Aviva, has received a number of bids from property investors looking to take ownership of the building.

    However, the Assembly will not receive any proceeds from the sale of the lucrative investment, which provides an annual rent of around £2m.

    Three years ago a new 25-year lease was struck between Morley and the National Assembly. There is a clause for rent, currently at pounds 16.20p a square foot per annum, to be increased in 2012. A decision on the successor bid is expected shortly.

    The investment sale is being handled for Morley by the Cardiff office of international chartered surveyors Knight Frank. Yesterday the firm declined to comment.

    I had read that to imply that Morley, part of Aviva might have shed its interest in the premises. Would it be usual for a corporation, such as Aviva, to employ the likes of international chartered surveyors Knight Frank merely to transfer an asset from one back pocket to the other?

    It further occurred to me that the new beneficial owner was likely to be A.N.Otherski or from some of the other lesser breeds without the law.

    I note that when Morley (in at least one of its manifestations) in October 2007 was rebranded and subsumed into Aviva the aim was to appeal to:

    a much wider range of European investors. This means that clients can gain exposure to convertibles without assuming the currency risk that is usually associated with an asset class that is so heavily weighted towards USD-denominated assets.

    I think that implies a wariness of the US sub-prime disaster-about-to-happen.