Overseas investors have gone crazy for Britain’s burgeoning property market over the last few years, especially in the aftermath of the credit crisis, which left a bulk of office space empty as financiers in their thousands cleared their desks.
But the latest data from one of the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firms shows that the Chinese, Middle East, and Brazil have, in fact, been propping up London’s office market for the past three years.
According to CBRE’s National Office Market Review report, the liberalisation of the Chinese and Taiwanese markets have opened the floodgates for investors looking to splash their cash in Britain’s capital city, adding billions more into commercial property market.
Overseas spending accounts for 70% of London office turnover for the second half of 2014 while £18.5 billion has been pumped into the sector by foreign cash for the last three years.
Some of London’s most iconic sky scrapers are now owned by Asian investors.
Notably, Canary Wharf Group’s 10 Upper Bank Street was sold off to Asian government-back insurer China Life for £795 million. Meanwhile, another Chinese insurer, Ping An, snapped up Tower Place for £330 million.
China Construction Bank also shelled out £110 million for 111 Old Broad Street.
Meanwhile, the infamous “Gherkin” — 30 St. Mary Axe — was bought for £700 million by a Brazilian billionaire Joseph Safra.
The Qataris, which already owns mega structures across London, also parted with £1.1 billion to buy HSBC’s Dockland’s headquarters in 2014.
So what’s next?
According to CBRE’s director Jamie Pope, demand from overseas investors will remain strong in 2015, as £13.5 billion worth of capital is looking for a home in London.
However, only £2.5 billion worth of office stock is available in London, currently.