Dutch businessman pockets half a billion from sale of Brussels Finance Tower

Dutch businessman pockets half a billion from sale of Brussels Finance Tower
The Ministry of Finance in Brussels. © Belga

The Dutch businessman Frank Sweegers made a profit of some €460 million from the sale of the Finance Tower in Brussels, according to his company’s annual report seen by the Dutch newspaper Eindhovens Dagblad (ED).

The Finance Tower was a government building at the junction of Avenue du Jardin Botanique and Rue Royale in the centre of Brussels. It stands 144m high and houses the federal finance and taxation authorities in 200,000 square metres of office space.

The building was sold in 2001 by the federal buildings agency for €311 million, according to a company press release issued at the time.

Under the lease-back arrangement made with the government of then-PM Guy Verhofstadt (Open VLD), the government would rent the building on condition certain renovations were carried out.

The new owners spent €325 million on renovations, including the removal of asbestos on all 36 floors.

The rent agreed in the period from the start of the agreement until this year would have amounted to a total of €1.1 billion, net of indexation increases in the interim.

The deal was in the hands of a partnership incorporated in Flanders, called Financietoren NV, which sold the building in January this year for €1.2 billion to investors from London and South Korea.

At the time, Breevast boasted that the sale was the highest price ever achieved for a single building in Belgium.

Zweegers’ company Breevast and another partnership of his, the Eindhoven-based property company ZBG, owned respectively 30% and 70% of Financietoren. According to the results published in the 2019 annual report of Breevast, Financietoren paid that company a dividend of €138 million on the sale.

Since the other partnership can be presumed to have received a dividend in line with its holding, or €322 million, the total sum paid to Zweegers’ companies comes to €460 million.

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times

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