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Chinese company said to have spent $400 million on chunk of London real estate

By Cecily Liu | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-05-19 04:16

A consortium led by Hong Kong-listed China Resources Land has purchased a central London commercial building for 315 million pounds ($400 million), according to reports on Thursday from London-based Chinese language publication UK Property and Investment Weekly.

The property at 20 Gresham Street, located at the heart of London's Square Mile financial district, comprises around 22,000 square meters of office space. It is primarily let to ICBC Standard Bank. Other occupiers include petrochemicals company Koch Supply & Trading and law firms Sacker & Partners and TLT Solicitors.

The asset was being sold by AXA Investment Managers, which started looking for buyers in February. The China Resources Land consortium also contains a 20 percent stake from the New York-based investment company NorthStar Realty.

20 Gresham Street was designed by London-based company Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, construction was completed in 2008. Rent currently produces annual income of around 12.8 million pounds, which represents a net initial yield of around 4 percent for the investors.

The purchase represents China Resources Land's first United Kingdom deal. It rides on a continued wave of Chinese investment into London's commercial properties, which accelerated with the pound's depreciation following the referendum decision in June to leave the European Union. At its weakest in October, the pound was down by around 20 percent against the renminbi.

Flagship deals, such as Hong Kong-based CC Land's purchase of London's Leadenhall Building for 1.15 billion pounds in March, have grabbed headlines. Other purchases include Guangzhou's R&F Properties buying Vauxhall Square in April for 158 million pounds, and China Estates buying 11-12 St James's Square for 175 million pounds.

According to estate agent CBRE, there was 2.72 billion pounds of Chinese investment in UK commercial property in the first quarter of 2017, a six-fold increase year-on-year. Chris Brett, CBRE's head of international capital markets, said deals in the pipeline involving Chinese investors, especially those in Hong Kong, were "at an all-time high".

Eric Zhao, Chinese capital markets specialist at estate agent Savills, added that he expects to see Chinese investors continuing to buy into London properties in 2017 as there is still a "value gap" between properties in London and other global cities.

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