Asian investors have deployed £4.6 billion into Central London’s commercial property market in 2016, apparently undeterred by the uncertainty that has followed Britain’s decision in June to leave the European Union.
In 2015, Asian investments totaled £4.25 billion and had a market share of 23 per cent.
Key deals included China Minsheng Investment Corp. buying Société Générale’s London headquarters for £84.5 million, and China Vanke Co. buying Ryder Court, an office building in Mayfair, for £115 million.
Kingboard Chemical Holdings Ltd, meanwhile, acquired Moor Place in the City of London last month for £271 million while 33 Gracechurch Street, EC3 was sold by Savills Investment Management to a private Asian investor for £75.1 million.
At 23 King Street, Hong Kong investor and developer Wheelock Properties paid Standard Life £120 million to acquire the building and the Singaporean ultra-high net worth family office, Pacific Eagle, purchased 71 Queen Victoria Street, EC4 for £220 million.
Adding to this, four of China’s biggest banks have agreed to finance the first stage of Chinese developer ABP’s plan to invest £1.7 billion in its Royal Albert Dock’s project which will transform the old East End dock into a hub for Asian businesses.
In excess of £300 million will facilitate the construction of the first of up to six phases of the project and will start in early 2017. The development will comprise approximately 600,000 square feet (55,740 square meters) of high-quality individual office buildings.
From a medium to long-term investor viewpoint, London looks attractive. While there is only a small discount on yield, there is a big discount on currency.
The sterling devaluation means that for some investors, entry prices appear 15-20 per cent cheaper in some cases than five months ago.
The occupational story also remains compelling. We expect that London’s low vacancy rate and cautious approach to the development pipeline will help to cushion any potential dip in demand that may come about as a result of the referendum vote to leave the EU.
Among many of the Asian investors that we talk to, there is full confidence that London will hold onto its status as a leading global financial center, and we’re getting inquiries from investors who have sat on the sidelines for years but believe that now is the time to buy.
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