Workspace Group PLC (formerly known as London Industrial PLC) was established in 1987 as the vehicle for the privatisation of part of the former Greater London Council’s industrial property portfolio. With capital of £17 million subscribed by a group of 12 institutions, it acquired from the London Residuary Body a portfolio of 18 small-unit multi-tenanted industrial estates comprising some 710,000 sq. ft. of floorspace. The estates were all located in Greater London, predominantly in East London.
The Group floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1993. Raising further funds through a share placing in 1994, it expanded outside London with the acquisition of a portfolio of industrial estates, primarily in the West Midlands. In the summer of 1999, a major acquisition of the Tonex portfolio for £80m, situated primarily in London, increased the portfolio by 40%. In 2001, the Group sold its Midlands properties and decided to focus its expansion on London and the South East. The Company now focuses exclusively on the London market.
In June 2006, a portfolio of properties totalling 1.2m sq. ft. was transferred to a joint venture with Glebe Developments in order to seek development opportunities and maximise the value of a number of estates for a cash consideration of £146m.
The Group raised £81m through a Rights Issue in March 2009 to strengthen its balance sheet in the light of reducing property values and the economic downturn.
In December 2009, the Glebe Joint Venture assets were repurchased for £15m cash consideration and £68m of stapled debt.
In February 2011, the Group established a Joint Venture with the BlackRock UK Property Fund called the BlackRock Workspace Property Trust (BWPT) and seeded the Trust with an initial £35m of properties. BWPT’s objective is to invest up to £100m in high yielding, multi-let office and industrial properties in and around London where there is potential for rental growth and added value from active asset management. The Group has a 20.1% interest in the BWPT joint venture, which today comprises eight properties.
A further Rights Issue in July 2011 raised £63m in order to provide the company with additional financial recourses to accelerate the investment programme across its existing portfolio and to take advantage of attractively priced property acquisitions.
In December 2014, the Company agreed terms with the former lenders to the Glebe Joint Venture for the termination of the Glebe Proceeds Share Agreement in return for a cash payment of £30m. This reflected a successful conclusion for both parties to the acquisition by Workspace of full control of the former Glebe joint venture in 2009.
The Group completed the disposal of the remaining eight properties in BWPT joint venture in May and June 2016 for £131m at a net initial yield of 4.7%. The disposals marked the conclusion of the joint venture with BlackRock in which Workspace made an initial investment of £20m in 2011. Based on the strong performance achieved over the fiveyear life of the joint venture, Workspace received a performance fee from BWPT of £25m.
Over the last year, Workspace has been heavily active in refurbishment and redevelopment, delivering both new and upgraded space - including acquiring its largest ever acquisition,13-17 Fitzroy Street, Fitzrovia, in terms of value, for £98.5m.
In its 30th year, Workspace owns 3.6m sq. ft. of space - 68 properties across London - and is home to some 3,000 exciting companies, ranging from entrepreneurs and fast-growing businesses to established brands.