Mumbai: Private equity firm Blackstone Group LP and its portfolio company Pune-based real estate developer Panchshil Realty are set to buy South Mumbai’s iconic Express Towers, an office space building, the Economic Times reported on Tuesday citing unnamed people involved in the ongoing negotiations.

According to the report, Blackstone and Panchshil Realty are buying out the commercial building’s current owners, Indian Express Ltd and PE firm ICICI Venture, for 900 crore.

When contacted by Mint, both ICICI Venture and Blackstone declined to comment. “The deal is not closed, talks are on," a person close to the transaction said, requesting anonymity.

Last year, Business Standard had reported that ICICI Venture was looking to sell its 49% stake in Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Ltd (IENL), which manages Express Towers.

Express Towers, which has 25 levels of office space, was built by Ramnath Goenka, the founder of Indian Express Ltd and designed by American architect and Indophile Joseph Allen Stein. Blackstone and Panchshil are buying 384,000 sq. ft of the total leasable area of nearly 400,000 sq. ft, the Economic Times report said. The deal excludes a top-floor penthouse owned by the former wife of Indian Express chairman and managing director Vivek Goenka, restaurants owned by members of the Goenka family and Express Group offices.

Blackstone is one of the few large PE firms in India that saw investments before the market boom of 2006-07 and the downturn after 2008-09. The PE firm has invested over $2.9 billion in India in more than 27 transactions since its operations here in 2005. It has invested over $1 billion in real estate.

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