Telus sells its new Vancouver headquarters

VANCOUVER — Telus Corp. is selling its new Vancouver headquarters building in a deal that was likely the result of an unsolicited offer too good for Telus and its joint-venture partner in the development to refuse.

Telus said in a statement about its second-quarter financial results, released late last week, that the joint venture “accepted an offer” to sell the property, but did not name the buyer or indicate the sale price.

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The company did not respond to questions about the deal. Telus said in a statement only that Telus expects to record a $170-million gain in its third-quarter financial results as its share of proceeds from the sale.

In a downtown office real-estate market with notoriously low vacancy, where prized office buildings are seldom put up for sale, local experts said they expect that the buyer paid a substantial price.

“It’s a surprise that an asset like this has sold,” because it hadn’t been listed for sale, said Kirk Kuester, executive managing director in B.C. for commercial realtor Colliers International.

However, Kuester said it is not uncommon for real-estate investors, including institutional investors such as pension funds, to make unsolicited offers on properties as a way of buying income-generating assets in Vancouver’s central business district.

“One of these investors, whoever that investor is, clearly approached the partners with what I assume was an unsolicited offer that ultimately became compelling enough to the owners to take advantage of it,” Kuester said.

Telus built the 24-storey, high-tech office tower with joint-venture partner Westbank Corp. as part of a $750-million redevelopment of most of the block of Richards Street from Georgia to Hornby that included a 53-storey residential building.

Opened in 2015, Telus Garden boasts solar panels on its roof and a district energy system that recovers waste heat from computer servers and other building operations.

Kuester said Telus Gardens’ roster of tenants, which will continue to include Telus, tech giant Amazon and high-profile law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, also make it an attractive acquisition from an investment standpoint.

Other downtown Vancouver office properties have traded hands for steep prices in the recent past.

The four-building Bentall Centre, for example, sold in 2016 for $1 billion to Chinese insurance firm Anbang, a sale that has run into controversy.

Anbang’s former chairman, Wu Ziaohuiwas, was charged with fraud in China for using funds from mom-and-pop retail investors, who thought they were buying insurance, to buy high-profile real estate.

In July, Wu was sentenced to 18 years in jail and Anbang reportedly put $10 billion US worth of assets up for sale. However, it was not clear whether Bentall Centre would be included in that effort.

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