38 Hill Street in London's Mayfair district. Image Credit: Bloomberg

London: The Qatar-based Al-Khayyat family, which owns swathes of industry in the gas-rich Gulf state, is considering the sale of a luxury property in one of London’s most exclusive districts.

The family, whose portfolio includes a construction giant that helped build Qatar’s largest mall and dairy producer Baladna, is potentially planning to sell one of Mayfair’s largest townhouses on 38 Hill Street, which is currently sitting empty, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because it’s private.

Better known as the Naval Club, the Georgian property was a private members’ club for the best part of a century, before the Al Khayyat family purchased it for about 28 million pounds in 2021, down from an initial guide price of roughly 35 million pounds ($43.6 million). The mansion will provide a test for London’s luxury property market, which is under siege from high financing costs.

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Efforts to reach the family for comment were unsuccessful.

Wetherell, a high-end luxury estate agent, is working with the family to find a potential buyer. The property, which is nestled between Hyde Park and Berkeley Square, was originally built in the 1700s.

“When you look at the history of Mayfair between 1850 and 1940, you realize how many palaces and mansions were demolished,” said Peter Wetherell, founder of Wetherell. “It is a rare privilege to have been involved in the sale,” he added, referring to the 2021 deal which he also advised on.

Ramez Al Khayyat’s Power International Holding conglomerate, which he runs with brother Moutaz Al Khayyat, covers a range of sectors including real estate, agriculture, food industries and hospitality.

The group’s subsidiary Baladna is the largest dairy producer in Qatar, and its parent company ranked thirteenth in a Forbes list of the Middle East’s top Arab family businesses last year.

The discreet nature of London’s ultra-prime property market means agents typically sound out prospective buyers through their private network. This allows sellers to experiment with pricing without leaving a digital footprint, meaning they are less likely to be disadvantaged if they choose to re-market at a later date.

London’s luxury housing market has come under pressure this year, as high financing costs force the city’s wealthiest home sellers to agree to discounts or risk deals falling through. The number of 5 million ponds-plus deals collapsing rose by 15 per cent between January and July, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to a report by researcher LonRes.

Still, the less debt-reliant nature of London’s luxury housing market means the costliest home sales are holding up better than cheaper deals. Some 17 per cent of ultra-high-net-worth individuals bought at least one home last year, according to a separate report from broker Knight Frank, and the wealthiest home owners are still securing deals.

Qatari Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani is also mulling the sale of two luxury properties in London’s upscale Knightsbridge and Belgravia districts, with a combined asking price of 370 million pounds. Indian billionaire Ravi Ruia bought a 113 million pounds London mansion overlooking Regent’s Park this summer.

There could be discounts on offer, too. TV personality Simon Cowell recently sold his London home in Holland Park for 15 million pounds - some 30 million pounds below values reported in the press