An investment fund backed by Anbang Insurance’s Korean subsidiary has purchased the Metro Tower in Seoul from real estate fund manager Angelo, Gordon and Company and local partner Vestas Investment Management, according to accounts in the Korean media.
The fund invested by Tongyang Life Insurance and managed by South Korea’s ANDA Asset Management Co, is buying the 39,908 square metre commercial property near Seoul Station in the South Korean capital for 240 billion won ($225 million) after two different sets of investors backed out of deals last year.
The purchase is the first noteworthy acquisition by a unit of Anbang in several months, and follows reports in August last year that the prolific deal maker was being forced to sell off its portfolio of overseas properties, which includes New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Anbang Buys Its Seoul Headquarters
Tongyang Life Insurance, which is 75 percent owned by Anbang, acquired the building by taking a majority stake in a fund run by South Korea’s ANDA Asset Management Co, according to local press accounts, with the deal said to have been signed on December 27th.
Anbang’s Seoul team should be familiar with the Metro Tower as the Chinese company is already the owner of the Korean branch of Allianz Life Insurance, which is a primary tenant of the 21-storey building. Other occupiers include Lotte Fire and Marine Insurance and some divisions of South Korea’s Finance Ministry. When Angelo, Gordon put the circa-1970 structure up for sale in 2016 it was reported to be 85 percent occupied.
The acquisition may be good news for Anbang in Korea, where in mid-2017 the mainland insurance giant had been embroiled in a lawsuit over a missed payment for Tong Yang Life Insurance, which it had acquired in 2015 for around $1 billion. Anbang picked up Allianz Korea Insurance in April 2016 for an undisclosed amount.
China has reined in it s most prolific cross-border real estate investors, including Anbang, Dalian Wanda and Fosun after capital outflows became a major economic security issue on the mainland in the past eighteen months.
Angelo, Gordon Exits Korean Deal
The disposal should count as a win for Angelo, Gordon after the US private equity firm teamed up with Vestas to buy the then GS Tower from local Korean company GS Engineering and Construction for 170 billion won in 2013.
Korea’s Emerson Asset Management had been selected as the preferred bidder for the Metro Tower in December 2016, before being forced to withdraw after it failed to secure adequate financing. Then in August last year Malaysia’s Employees Provident Fund backed out of an acquisition bid following North Korea’s test of an ICBM.