Millennium Dome to become e-business park

Dome is where the park is

London's Millennium Dome will be sold to a property company which intends to turn it into a high-tech business park called "Knowledge City". The deal had been held up while the government investigated the plans of Legacy, the last remaining bidder.

The Dome will house companies in the fields of high technologies, e-commerce and bio-science, according to Robert Bourne, head of Legacy. The company said the project has the support of BT, the London Business School and the Open University.

Legacy is likely to pay about £125m for the Dome, which will no longer have public access.

Originally there were dozens of bidders to take over the Dome when its struggling millennium exhibition closes at the end of this year.

The list of bidders had been reduced to a shortlist of Legacy and a consortium led by the Japanese bank Nomura. Nomura won the deal and planned to buy the Dome for £105m, but pulled out last month amid continued questions about its finances.

An audit office report said the Dome budgeted for £758m, including National Lottery grants, corporate sponsorships, and ticket income.

But as visitors failed to materialise, the Dome lapped up another nearly £126m in lottery grants this year.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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