((This Feb. 22 story corrects paragraph 4 to clarify NBIM’s partnership with Crown Estate))
By Noor Zainab Hussain and Esha Vaish
(Reuters) - The sovereign wealth fund of Norway bought a 245 million pounds ($342 million) stake in British property group Shaftesbury from Invesco, regulatory filings showed on Thursday.
Shaftesbury owns and manages retail, office and residential properties in the prime London districts of Soho and Covent Garden.
Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund and one of the largest holders of London property, increased its stake in Shaftesbury to 20.86 percent from 12.66 percent earlier.
Norges, Shaftesbury’s second biggest shareholder, also owns a 25 percent share in London’s Regent Street, with the rest held by the Crown Estate, a collection of lands and holdings in the United Kingdom belonging to the Queen.
It bought the stake in Shaftesbury from Invesco, an investment management firm, which sold most of its holding of 9.99 percent.
The stake changed hands at a price of 970 pence according to the filing, giving a total price of 245 million pounds.
Shaftesbury’s top investor is Hong Kong billionaire Samuel Tak Lee, with a 25 percent stake.
The stake sale comes two weeks after the company’s annual general meeting where Lee voted down two resolutions to authorize directors to allot shares.
Newspapers have speculated that Lee could make a bid for the property company, as he has taken advantage of the weakness in sterling to build up his stake in the company in the past few months. bit.ly/2DPzLt1
Lee owns swathes of prime retail and office space in London’s West End through the company Langham Estate.
Shaftesbury declined to comment.
The company has a market valuation of 2.99 billion pounds ($4.16 billion).
Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle