INDUSTRY NEWS

Pressure from huge bills hits Halabi portfolio

Commercial property in London worth upwards of £500 million has been placed on the market as Syrian billionaire Simon Halabi seeks to settle an enormous bill for loans and unpaid taxes.

The selection comprises some of the most expensive and desirable office space in the capital, including Aviva Tower and JPMorgan’s London headquarters at 60 Victoria Embankment.

Halabi’s predicament began when commercial property values started their downward spiral in 2007, but was compounded when HM Revenue & Customs revoked his exemption from withholding tax in September.

Stifled in his attempt to pay back the £1.15 billion loan on the portfolio, HMRC ordered that the companies which own the buildings should be put in administration. Even without the additional tax burden, however, Halabi was struggling to settle his debts it was claimed, after a disastrous period in the property markets halved the value of the six buildings to £900 million.