ICICI Venture (I-Ven), the country’s largest private equity firm, has started the process to exit Express Towers, the iconic building in Nariman Point here, owned by the Indian Express Group. According to sources, I-Ven has hired a real estate advisor, Jones Lang LaSalle, to find buyers for its significant minority stake. I-Ven acquired a 49 per cent stake in the the 25-storey building in 2008 for about Rs 350 crore. The remaining stake is held by Viveck Goenka, chairman and managing director of the Indian Express Group. The PE firm is eyeing a valuation of Rs 500-600 for its stake.
When contacted, Vishakha Mulye, managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Venture, refused to comment on this story. According to experts, Express Towers can fetch a good valuation following its recent makeover. “Though most commercial buildings in south Mumbai see exits of tenants on account of space crunch, spacious offices still give a high hand to Express Towers and recent renovations have made the building attractive,” said a real estate advisor. After buying stake through its India Advantage Fund III, I-Ven has renovated the lobby area and installed high-speed lifts in the building. Last year, Nariman Point, once the prime business centre in the country, went down to the 25th position from being the seventh most expensive place in the world for office space in 2006, according to a survey by CBRE Global Research and Consulting. Last year, Bandra-Kurla Complex had beaten the Central Business District of Nariman Point as the most expensive office space in India. I-Ven, with assets under management of $2 billion, is keen for exiting its early investments such as Bharat Biotech.