Investors are targeting London’s commercial property in order to take advantage of favourable exchange rates and avoid increasingly expensive home markets.
According to figures from Savills, buyers from Asia had deployed £4.5bn of money into central London’s office market by the end of November, accounting for a third of the 2016’s total – far higher than last year when they held a 23pc market share.
However, the figure could rise even higher if other major office deals complete before the end of the year. The sales of buildings 30 Crown Place and law firm Freshfields’s headquarters on Fleet Street to Asian buyers are soon to be completed.
Beijing Capital Development Holdings is understood to be paying around £210m for 30 Crown Place, and Hong Kong-based private equity Joint Treasure has 65 Fleet Street under offer at around £155m.
There have been suggestions that the share of Asian investment for the final quarter of the year could be as much as 65-70pc. There has been an increase in activity following the vote to leave the European Union, which pushed down the value of the pound.
After a quieter first half of the year, investors flocked to the London market in the final months of 2016. The drop in sterling resulted in an effective 10pc discount on prices for those investing with foreign currencies.
Rasheed Hassan, head of cross-border investment at Savills, said: “We expect London to remain attractive to Asian buyers who have benefited from the devaluation of sterling and foresee their market share in London commercial property being higher in 2016 compared to recent years.”
The last few years have seen a number of new investors come into the London commercial property market, particularly those from Taiwan after the Taiwanese financial regulator lifted restrictions on investing money outside of the island.
There have also been concerns that some major Chinese cities and the Taiwan capital of Taipei are becoming overheated as prices continue to rise, meaning investors have begun to look elsewhere.
Meanwhile, some investors are anxious about a credit-fuelled property bubble that enabled the Chinese economy to maintain growth during the financial crisis, but has resulted in an oversupply of residential property in many secondary cities.
On Friday, the Xinhua news agency reported that Ma Jun, chief economist of the country’s central bank, had said that the Chinese property market is likely to slow in 2017.