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LONDON-Grosvenor Estates, the family business of the Duke of Westminster, has earmarked ($1.7 billion) $2.6 billion for a massive development and investment programme.

The latest to be unveiled are plans for a £100 million ($158 million) business park in Edinburgh where the company proposes to build 230,000 sq ft of offices on a former distribution facility on South Gyle Broadway. The development will comprise three buildings sited around a landscaped square. The first phase of 100,000 sq ft will be built speculatively.

Grosvenor has already committed to a £700 million ($1.1 billion) development in Liverpool city centre and a £500 million ($789 million) scheme in Preston town centre.

The company, through a subsidiary, is also planning schemes in Washington DC, Sydney in Australia and British Columbia in Canada. The subsidiary, Grosvenor Americas of Vancouver, has a cash pile of £316 million $500 million) to invest in joint venture development and investment opportunities mainly in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, Vancouver and Calgary. The firm also plans to make its debut investments in Toronto and, pending board approval, New York.

The overseas strategy is to hold stakes of 20% to 50% in acquired properties, with the rest of the investment supplied by various partners, including high-net-worth individuals and corporate pension funds from the U.K., Canada and the U.S.

Overall, the development and investment programme amounts to a massive expansion outside of the company’s historic core in London’s Belgravia Mayfair. It was rising rents and land values in Belgravia and Mayfair that helped the Duke of Westminster build the company into a £2.36 billion ($3.72 billion) which last year gave a total return of 13.1 per cent. Pre-tax profits last year were £82 million.

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