LONDON (Reuters) - News International, the British newspaper wing of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, has put its former Wapping home up for sale, abandoning a plan to remodel the 15-acre site in east London that housed the News of the World.
“The majority of News International’s Wapping-based editorial and commercial staff have now relocated into Thomas More Square with the remainder to be relocated by the end of 2011,” the company said on Monday.
“As a result, and in light of current market conditions, News International has decided not to proceed with remodeling the Wapping site.” Thomas More Square is close to the site being sold.
London property developer Marcus Cooper said it was interested in buying the site to develop a residential-led scheme.
Cooper was linked to the site when it was on sale in 2008 as part of a 200 million pound ($324 million) deal to create a two-million square feet housing, office and retail scheme.
“The Cooper Group continues to have an interest in acquiring the News international site, for a major mixed use redevelopment,” Archie Avery, development director of Cooper Group told Reuters.
Another source close to the situation said it was likely News Corp would prefer bids for residential-led schemes if local planners allowed, as they would achieve the highest return.
News Corp. abandoned the 2008 sale against a poor economic backdrop, saying it would move staff from other offices to the Wapping site, which it would remodel. The site will have risen steeply in value since Murdoch bought it in the 1980s.
In 1986, thousands of demonstrators clashed with police at the site as part of protests against Murdoch’s move to shift his news operations out of Fleet Street.
The move, which saw Murdoch introduce electronic production techniques requiring fewer staff, triggered the dismissal of thousands of workers.
The site is home to The Times and Sunday Times newspapers.
Reporting by Tom Bill; Editing by Dan Lalor