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Mormon Church buys Wembley Amazon warehouse for £74 million via charitable company

Wembley180 has been bought by the Mormon Church’s investment arm  (UK Commercial Property REIT)
Wembley180 has been bought by the Mormon Church’s investment arm (UK Commercial Property REIT)

The Mormon Church’s investment arm has bought a 186,455 sq ft Amazon warehouse in Wembley for £74 million.

The property, bought from UK Commercial Property REIT (UKCM), will become part of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints’ investment portfolio, which was valued at $44.8 billion at the end of 2022.

The property, Wembley180, was bought by Covent Garden IP, which is registered as a charitable company with a goal “to promote and further the religious and other charitable work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the United Kingdom”.

“CG does this by investing in and holding commercial property for the benefit of the Church,” the organisation says.

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The company made £5.6 million in investment income in 2021, mostly from rent, and paid £2.3 million to the Church. As of the end of 2021, it owned almost £100 million worth of property.

Dale Bills, spokesman for the buyer, said: “The purchase of Wembley180 furthers our efforts to make prudent, long-term investments. Earnings from our investments are expected to support the religious and charitable work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the United Kingdom.”

UKCM bought the property in 2009 and said the sale price reflects a net initial yield of 3.49%.

“People have been looking for signs of where pricing is in the commercial property world,” UKCM fund manager Will Fulton told the Standard. “And this backs up the valuations.”

Fulton added that he believed the Mormon Church would most likely have a long-term interest in the property.

“That would probably suit us both,” he said.

UKCM will use the proceeds of the deal to pay down its debt costs.

“This disposal allows us to crystallise the value we have created through both the timely acquisition of an asset in a prime London logistics location and our subsequent active asset management of the property, including a long lease to a global e-commerce business,” Fulton said. “We will use proceeds of the sale to enhance earnings, primarily by paying down some short-term debt.”

The Mormon Church has bought a 186,455 sq ft Amazon warehouse in Wembley for £74 million.

The property, bought from UK Commercial Property REIT (UKCM), will become part of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints’ investment portfolio, which was valued at $44.8 billion at the end of 2022.

Dale Bills, spokesman for the buyer, said: “The purchase of Wembley180 furthers our efforts to make prudent, long-term investments. Earnings from our investments are expected to support the religious and charitable work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the United Kingdom.”

Last week, a former fund manager of the Church’s investment arm in the US said on news programme 60 Minutes that the company had used false statements to pose as a charity, when it was really a “clandestine hedge fund”. 60 Minutes broadcaster CBS said Church leaders denied the allegations.

UKCM bought the property in 2009 and said the sale price reflects a net initial yield of 3.49%.

“People have been looking for signs of where pricing is in the commercial property world,” UKCM fund manager Will Fulton told the Standard. “And this backs up the valuations.”

Fulton added that he believed the Mormon Church would most likely have a long-term interest in the property.

“That would probably suit us both,” he said.

UKCM will use the proceeds of the deal to pay down its debt costs.

“This disposal allows us to crystallise the value we have created through both the timely acquisition of an asset in a prime London logistics location and our subsequent active asset management of the property, including a long lease to a global e-commerce business,” Fulton said. “We will use proceeds of the sale to enhance earnings, primarily by paying down some short-term debt.”

DTRE advised UKCM on the deal, while DWS and Knight Frank advised the buyer.

Ben Sleath, the DTRE agent on the deal, said CG likely saw an opportunity for rent on the property to rise in the future.

“The purchaser is likely expecting some rental growth,” he said. “They’re happy to take a low yield for now on the hopes of higher yields in the future.”

Sleath added that despite a slowdown in the rates of growth, ecommerce was still on the up, making warehouse properties more valuable.

Shares in UKCM, which has a £1.3 billion property portfolio, are up by 0.9p to 51.9p today.