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Billionaire “vaccine prince” Adar Poonawalla has reached a deal for London’s most expensive home sale of the year, agreeing to pay about £138mn for a 25,000 square foot Mayfair mansion.
Aberconway House, a vast 1920s home near Hyde Park, will change hands after a sale was agreed by Dominika Kulczyk, daughter of the late businessman Jan Kulczyk, who was Poland’s richest man.
The property will be acquired by Serum Life Sciences, a UK subsidiary of the Poonawalla family’s Serum Institute of India, people familiar with the transaction said.
The price tag makes Aberconway House the second-most expensive home ever sold in London and the biggest deal of the year, according to luxury property agents.
The top end of London’s property market is insulated from the impact of higher borrowing costs, which have slowed the wider UK housing market this year since few buyers rely on mortgages.
Trophy properties in London have remained attractive to international buyers despite new transparency measures brought in to help target Russian money after the war in Ukraine, and the prospect of tax changes if the Labour party wins the next UK general election.
A source close to Serum Life Sciences said the Ponawalla family had “no plans” to move to the UK permanently, but that “the house will serve as a base for the company and family when they are in the UK”.
The London deal follows multimillion-pound investments in vaccine research and manufacturing facilities near Oxford, the person added.
In 2021, the family pledged £50mn to Oxford university for a new Poonawalla Vaccines Research Building. The Serum Institute manufactured hundreds of millions of doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Poonawalla, who took over leadership of the Serum Institute from his father in 2011, rented the Grade II-listed property in 2021 for more than £50,000 a week, Bloomberg reported at the time.
Poonawalla and Kulczyk declined to comment.
The impressive red-brick residence is named for Henry Duncan McLaren, Baron Aberconway, a turn-of-the-century industrialist who built the Grosvenor Square mansion.
The next largest sale of 2023, according to agents, was the £113mn purchase of Hanover Lodge. Essar Group billionaire Ravi Ruia’s family office bought the mansion in Regent’s Park, which had been linked to Russian property investor Andrey Goncharenko.
London’s most expensive house sale was 2-8a Rutland Gate, sold in January 2020 by the estate of the former Saudi Arabian crown prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz for a record-breaking £210mn. The Financial Times revealed last year the true identity of the buyer as Hui Ka Yan, the founder and chair of Evergrande.