Hui Wing Mau, the billionaire chairman of Shanghai-based real estate developer Shimao Holdings, has officially become a player in the European market with his purchase of a central London office complex.
Hui, who has already acquired commercial real estate assets in Sydney, bought the 303,000 square foot (28,150 square metre) Christ Church Court office building at 15 Newgate Street in London’s financial district from German real estate investment firm Deka Immobilien GmbH for an undisclosed sum.
The acquisition testifies to the ongoing appeal of commercial property in global gateway cities such as London, particularly as more Chinese investors venture out of the mainland to diversify their portfolios and search for investment returns.
Hui Becomes Goldman’s New Landlord
The newest addition to Hui’s property collection is currently home to Goldman Sachs, which has leased Christ Church Court in its entirety through 2025, although the finance firm has the option to break the lease in 2020.
The building is located near St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London Stock Exchange in EC1, and was completed in 2000. Deka Immobilien had held the property for nearly 12 years.
Richard Garside, of BNP Paribas Real Estate, which advised Hui on the acquisition, said: “We are delighted to have acted for Mr Hui Wing Mau on the off market acquisition of Christ Church Court as it was a rare opportunity to acquire one of the few assets within the Paternoster Square Estate as well as a prime City of London asset adjacent to The London Stock Exchange.”
Although the Christ Church Court acquisition was Hui’s first in the UK, the native of China’s Fujian province began investing overseas last year, when together with his company Shimao, the billionaire bought an office building in downtown Sydney for $339 million.
Hui made a fortune estimated at $4.6 billion by Forbes by building Shimao into one of China’s biggest residential developers, and also owns a chain of hotels on the mainland.
Chinese Continue to Buy in London
Hui’s purchase of the London office building is just the latest in a growing string of acquisitions by Chinese corporate and institutional investors, and comes despite ever-rising asset prices in the city.
John Heaver, director of strategic investment with Savills, who represented Deka in the sale commented that: “We continue to see a high amount of interest from Asian investors in this type of first-class London asset and expect this to continue for the foreseeable future.”
In addition to headline grabbing deals such as Ping An Insurance spending more than $880 million on two acquisitions in the City of London, and China Life’s $1.35 billion deal for an office building on Canary Wharf, many Chinese corporate investors have been buying assets in the city.
According to Savills research, Chinese buyers spent £2.2 billion ($3.32 billion) on real estate in the UK’s capital last year, making them the second biggest foreign investors in the city’s property market, behind only the United States.