Kazakh oligarch Timur Kulibayev sells Mayfair mansion for £35mn

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Timur Kulibayev, the son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s former autocratic president, sold a London mansion for £34.7mn to a property investment firm founded by an ex-Deutsche Bank executive. 

Forty-one Upper Grosvenor Street, a large Edwardian townhouse located in Mayfair and a short walk from Buckingham Palace, was acquired by North Wind Capital in late March, property records show. 

North Wind is a real estate investment group founded by Ben Williams, a former director in Deutsche Bank’s real estate special situations team. It plans to redevelop the property.

Kulibayev is also seeking to sell an adjacent property, 42 Upper Grosvenor Street, but has yet to find a buyer, according to people familiar with the matter.

The sale underscores the resilience of London’s super-prime property market over the past 12 months, despite a wider slowdown in the real estate market.

High-end London property has remained largely insulated from the impact of higher borrowing costs as many buyers use cash to fund their purchases. Other large deals to complete recently include the £138mn acquisition of Aberconway House by Adar Poonawalla last year. 

Kulibayev is the son-in-law of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was in power for almost three decades in Kazakhstan, and was once regarded as a potential successor. He also held a series of prominent roles in the country including chairing its influential sovereign wealth fund.

The two central London properties have been part of his property portfolio for nearly two decades. Forty-one Upper Grosvenor Street has been empty for a large part of that, drawing the ire of homelessness campaigners lamenting largely absentee foreign owners hidden behind offshore companies. 

After a UK government crackdown on transparency over property ownership, records showed that Kulibayev last year registered as the owner of Merix International Ventures, a British Virgin Islands entity that owns 41 Upper Grosvenor Street. In December, Kulibayev registered as the ultimate beneficial owner of Luxembourg-based Vitala Investment Holdings, the owner of 42 Upper Grosvenor Street, a separate filing shows.

Timur Kulibayev is the billionaire son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s former president, Nursultan Nazarbayev © Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

Spokespeople for Kulibayev and North Wind declined to comment on the sale.

Forty-one Upper Grosvenor Street was acquired for £25.8mn in 2007 and 42 Upper Grosvenor Street was purchased for nearly £12mn in the same year, according to a High Court document and property records. 

In 2007, Kulibayev also bought Prince Andrew’s Sunninghill Park in Berkshire in a transaction that drew scrutiny after he paid £3mn above the asking price.

A spokesperson for Kulibayev said the Sunninghill Park deal was: “A commercial, arm’s length transaction. The property was purchased as part of a competitive bidding process, during which there was another potential buyer and as a result the final asking price increased and was agreed.”

Forty-one Upper Grosvenor Street was the subject of a dispute between Merix and the Duke of Westminster’s estate over whether the property, which had previously been used both as an office and a place of residence, could be considered a house. 

During the court hearing, it was revealed that the property had sat unused since 2000 when it was vacated by its former occupants, asset management firm Schroders. 

Its status led to the building being included on a tour of large, unused homes by a housing campaign group called Land Justice that aims to draw attention to London’s homelessness crisis. 

The acquirer of 41 Upper Grosvenor Street was first reported by React News. 

Forty-two Upper Grosvenor Street, which consists of nearly 9,000 square feet of office space, is being marketed to prospective buyers, one person said. It is at present being used as office space after it was refurbished.

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