Sale of the La Presse building to foreign buyers

A world-leading shipping company has just bought the La Presse building in Montreal for $40.5 million from a company owned by the Desmarais brothers, among others.

Square Victoria Real Estate, whose directors include André and Paul Desmarais Jr., sold its building at 750 Saint-Laurent Boulevard to the International Conglomerate Maritime Company.

The building was first constructed in the late 1950s as the office of the daily newspaper La Presse.

It was then completely renovated in 2018 with eight floors and now houses many tenants.

With this $40.5 million transaction, the buyer continues to lease offices to La Presse, Forbius, La Presse Canadienne and Gesca.

The new owner of the approximately 11,000 square meter building is a company with shareholders mainly based in Luxembourg.

Not Canadian

“He is a non-Canadian within the meaning of the Investment Canada Act,” the June 16 deed read.

The chairman of the International Conglomerate Maritime Company is Sokat Shaikh. Within this conglomerate, Mr. Shaikh is also at the helm of the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), a world leader in container shipping.

Interestingly, MSC had already purchased the former offices of La Presse at 7 rue Saint-Jacques in Old Montreal in December 2020. Note that the old and new offices of the daily newspaper face each other.

The Journal contacted Sokat Shaikh, but our interview requests remained unanswered as of Wednesday afternoon.

For its part, the Héritage Montréal organization points out that the building sold is located on a listed site in the Old Port.

A heritage

“We’re starting to ask ourselves questions about media heritage here. Several buildings of these institutions are changing. They will increase with more modern additions. We don’t have an appreciation for this modern heritage yet, it’s time to ask questions about it,” explains Taïka Baillargeon of Héritage Montréal.

Ms Baillargeon cites the example of Radio-Canada, which recently gave up its large tower to set up shop in its new home in the Ville-Marie district.

But is she worried about foreign shareholders getting their hands on the building that houses La Presse’s offices?

“A priori, we are not worried. It remains to be seen if the owner’s values ​​will change much from the old ones,” assures Ms. Baillargeon.

– With Philippe Langlois

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