Korean institutional investors have chalked up another cross-border property deal, with a unit of Samsung buying a London office building for an estimated price of up to £320 million ($457 million).
Samsung SRA Asset Management, the real estate investment arm of Samsung Life Insurance, has acquired 200 Aldersgate, a 434,000 square foot (40,320 square metre) multi-let office building from UK property investment firm AshbyCapital. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the selling price for the City of London building is believed to be around £320 million, according to an account in CoStar. A separate report in Property Week republished on AshbyCapital’s corporate website pegs the price at approximately £315 million ($450 million).
The deal brings Samsung SRA back to the British capital, after the unit of the Korean conglomerate sold 30 Crown Place in the City of London in 2016. Savills Investment Management acted for Samsung SRA in the acquisition.
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“200 Aldersgate, a landmark office building in the revitalizing Farringdon area, offers our Global Core Office Fund #2 investors a compelling opportunity to benefit from longer term growth prospects of London as a global gateway city,” commented Young W Chai, senior managing director at Samsung SRA. “Savills IM and Samsung SRA will continue to support the building’s tenants, leveraging the relationships that AshbyCapital has established.”
London-based AshbyCapital, which was founded by property veteran Peter Ferrari in 2013, purchased 200 Aldersgate in the same year as its maiden investment for £225 million (then $333 million). Built in 1992, the 21-storey property straddling the City of London financial district and the Farringdon area was refurbished in 2011.
“Samsung SRA has a strong track record as a strategic investor in London and we are confident the building will continue to deliver strong performance under its new owner,” commented Ferrari in a statement.
AshbyCapital brought the building to full occupancy, achieving rents of over £80 ($114) per square foot. The firm has recently signed office and retail tenants including Ford Motor Co and Eat, while adding amenities such as treatment rooms, Amazon lockers and electric car charging points.
The company put the building up for sale last autumn with an asking price of £320 million.
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Formed in 2012, Samsung SRA made its first overseas investment the following year when it purchased the grade A office 30 Crown Place, in East Central London for 242 billion Korean won ($205 million). Almost four years later, the Seoul-based investment manager sold the building to a Chinese fund for $289 million, according to a January 2017 report. The company achieved $84 billion in capital gains through the sale, bringing an annual internal rate of return of over 14 percent.
The real estate investment arm of the phone-making conglomerate has 16 REITs under its management, its corporate website shows, with assets located in the US, Germany and South Korea.
Aside from Samsung’s deals, a number of Korean institutional investors have been targeting European assets for their overseas acquisitions. Hana Investment Securities and Hanwha Investment Securities, arms of Korean conglomerates Hana Financial Group and Hanwha Group, bought the Allianz headquarters in Berlin for $330 million last year. Korean securities brokerage Meritz Securities and Capstone Asset Management also acquired a German retailer’s headquarters in Berlin for $215 million in the same year.