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LONDON-Chelsfield has confirmed the funding partner and anchor tenant for its long-awaited White City retail development in West London. After seven years of preparatory work deals have been finalised with the German fund CGI and with retailer Marks & Spencer.

The €12 billion ($13.5 billion) CGI property fund is to take a 50% stake in White City in a deal that values the site alone at £203 million ($320 million). Chelsfield will project manage the million-sf development while retaining a 50% stake as a long-term investment. Completion is scheduled for the first half of 2007.

And as the first piling rigs start on site, seven years after infrastructure works began, the project has received a second boost with news that Marks & Spencer has finally agreed to take a 152,000-sf anchor store over three floors in the northeastern corner of the development. M&S had originally been lined up as anchor tenant, but subsequently went cold on the idea when it was forced to cut its expansion plans in the late 1990s. The deal will be seen as confirmation that M&S is now back on the acquisitions trail.

Chelsfield chairman Elliot Bernerd says discussions were under way with other anchors. “Our expectation is that terms will be agreed with a second retailer within the next four to six weeks,” he says.

But Bernerd was also forced to concede that he had missed the initial deadline for his plans to take the company private. It is now unlikely to be until mid-October before his MBO team is in a position to put firm proposals to the company’s independent directors.

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