Asian clamour for safe investments lifts City property

Marion Dakers
THE CITY and the Docklands enjoyed a big lift in commercial property deals last year, with £6.3bn changing hands through 108 transactions, new figures show.

Activity was up 34 per cent by value on a year ago, according to real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, with overseas funds making almost half of all purchases.

Asian buyers made 30 per cent of the deals, taking the lion’s share of the 41 per cent of the market made up of overseas investors, the research said.

And sales such as Nathan Kirsh’s purchase of Tower 42 and a deal by a sovereign wealth fund to buy One Silk Street have helped boost the total in the final quarter of 2011.

The West End also fared well, with £4.5bn of transactions and prime rents up 7.9 per cent for office space and two per cent for retail.

For central London as a whole, investors spent £10.9bn on commercial property during last year, up from £9.9bn in 2010.

“Looking ahead to 2012, all markets will be tough but we expect the West End to continue attracting overseas equity given the wealth preservation characteristics of the prime assets within this area,” said Cushman’s head of central London investment Clive Bull.

“A number of European funds” are expected to sell out of central London properties over the next year, keeping the market buoyant, adds head of City investment Bill Tyser.

Property investors who bought in during the 2008/9 slump are also likely to take profits this year, he thinks.