30 Gresham Street has been purchased for slightly less than its asking price of £425 million. The buyers are a joint venture from Hong Kong, made up of Wing Tai Properties and Manhattan Garment Holdings. The pair will split the deal equally.
The office building was previously owned by Samsung Life Insurance. The Seoul-based company purchased it for £310 million in 2013. It sits in between St Paul’s and Bank in the City of London and remains the London headquarters for German bank Commerzbank and South African bank Investec.
The 403,000 square foot property consists of prime office space, retail space and ancillary accommodation. Developed in 2003 by Land Securities, the building was then described as “the biggest speculative development in the capital”.
Earlier this year, Samsung Life Insurance began looking for offers around £425 million for the office building. Wing Tai Properties, a Hong Kong affiliate of Singapore-listed Wing Tai Holdings, and Manhattan Garment Holdings, a privately held Hong Kong property developer and real estate investor, will both commit somewhere above £200 million each to their newly formed joint venture.
Investment in London from Hong Kong has been prevalent in recent years, with 20 Fenchurch Street – or the “Walkie Talkie” – selling for £1.28 billion to Hong Kong food conglomerate Lee Kum Lee in 2017. In fact, 39% of Central London’s office deals by foreign investors came from Chinese and Hong Kong buyers last year.
There has been a marked increase in Asian investment in London property overall in recent years, as a result of more attractive yields in London than in investors’ home countries. The £425 million asking price for 30 Gresham Street reflected a yield of 4.25 per cent. Hong Kong, on the other hand, had an average yield of 2.3% on Grade A office building, according to the city’s Rating and Valuation Department.
Wing Tai said in its statement that acquiring this building “provides an opportunity for the group to expand and diversify its property investment portfolio and generate a steady flow of rental income”. It also said that it would fund its half of the investment through “internal resources and/or borrowing”.