Everton Football Club owner Farhad Moshiri holds the largest stake in Liverpool’s Royal Liver Building, which was put up for sale days after a longtime Russian associate of the British-Iranian businessman was hit with sanctions, according to a document seen by the Financial Times.
Moshiri, who is under growing scrutiny for his ties to billionaire oligarch Alisher Usmanov, owns 49.9 per cent of one of Britain’s most famous office buildings, which is on the market for only the second time in its more than 100-year history.
Real estate services company CBRE started marketing the property to potential buyers earlier this month for in excess of £90mn, acting for a group of investors that acquired it for £48mn in 2017.
While property investment group Corestate Capital fronted that acquisition, the Luxembourg-based company’s accounts show it only has a 35 per cent stake in the Royal Liver Building. Another document seen by the FT breaking down the building’s ownership structure details the size of Moshiri’s stake.
A group of unnamed “international” investors are the other owners.
Shortly after the 2017 acquisition, Moshiri told the Liverpool Echo that he had been part of the consortium that had bought the property, but it has not previously been reported that the British-Iranian businessman holds the largest stake in the Grade 1 listed building.
When CBRE announced the sale on March 15, it said it was marketing the building “on behalf of current owners, Corestate Capital”.
Corestate told the FT it was unable comment on the building’s ownership structure, but said that it made the decision to sell the building in October 2021.
“The fact that the sale of the building is now taking place is due to favourable market conditions,” Corestate added. “These have not been present in recent years predominantly driven by Covid and Brexit. The building has undergone an extensive refurbishment programme over the past five years and is now let to several major Liverpool companies.”
A spokesman for Moshiri said that “Corestate took the view that now is the right time to sell and made that recommendation to all investors”. He added that the businessman had not ruled out buying the other 50.1 per cent stake in the Liver Building.
CBRE declined to comment.
The lack of public disclosure on the size of Moshiri’s stake in the building highlights the opacity of the Britain’s property market, which the government is looking to address with a new register of beneficial owners. Filings at the UK’s Land Registry only show that the Royal Liver Building is owned by a Guernsey company that was incorporated by Corestate Capital.
Moshiri is a longtime business partner of Usmanov, whom the UK government imposed sanctions on on March 3. This dented the finances of Everton, as the Liverpool club had to suspend sponsorship deals with companies connected to the oligarch.
Everton is one of the Royal Liver Building’s tenants, with sales documents sent to prospective buyers showing that the club accounts for 14 per cent of the building’s letting income. Moshiri, who is shareholder of Usmanov’s USM Holdings and was previously its chair, owns more than 94 per cent of the Premier League side’s equity.
The BBC reported this week that Moshiri has ties to several offshore trusts that own British properties connected to Usmanov. Moshiri’s spokesperson told the BBC that he was no longer a director of one of the trusts and had never been involved in the management or control of another.
Designed by Walter Aubrey Thomas, the Royal Liver Building was the tallest office building in Europe when it opened in 1911, as the headquarters of the Royal Liver insurance group. The 322ft-high building dominates the Mersey waterfront and is best known for its two Liver Bird sculptures, which sit at the top of its clocktowers and a version of which appears on Liverpool Football Club’s crest.
Moshiri owns his stake in the building through a company called Rising Waves Limited, which was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands a month before the 2017 acquisition.