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Abu Dhabi’s state-owned exhibitions company is waiving charges for Britain’s health service to use its giant London conference center as an emergency hospital, following a similar move by Blackstone Group Co.
Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Co. PJSC had initially been asking as much as 3 million pounds ($3.68 million) in rent per month for the site near London’s Canary Wharf financial district, the Sunday Times reported earlier. The center is being turned into a 4,000-bed field hospital for coronavirus cases, making it one of the largest in the world.
In response to the Sunday Times report, the company’s U.K. unit said that while it had never charged Britain’s National Health Service rent for the site, it had since decided to cover the costs of maintaining the building itself.
“The initial agreement with the NHS included a contribution to some fixed costs,” said ExCeL Chief Executive Jeremy Rees. “We have since decided to cover the fixed costs ourselves.”
Private equity group Blackstone had already waived the rent at its own center in Birmingham, which is being turned into the second of the NHS’s Nightingale hospitals.
Adnec acquired the ExCeL center in 2008 for more than $600 million.
“We are doing all that we can to help the U.K. through these challenging times,” said Managing Director Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri. “To be clear, profit has always been the furthest thing from our minds.”
— With assistance by Mahmoud Habboush
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