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Gaw Capital Buys Waterside House in London for Korean Investors

Gaw Capital Partners, a Hong Kong-based private equity real estate company, has bought the Waterside House in London for a group of South Korean investors, as interest in overseas properties from Asia grows.

Gaw Capital is a co-investor and will manage the property being used by Marks & Spencer Group Plc as its headquarters, the company said in an e-mailed press release today. The statement didn’t identify the other investors and the amount paid for the building. Reuters reported the buyers paid about $321 million, citing a person with direct knowledge of the transaction.

Asian investors in countries from China to South Korea are increasing their investments in overseas real estate for higher yields amid slowing growth in the region. Korean Teacher’s Credit Union, with about $20 billion in assets, is boosting alternative investments including property abroad to a record this year, Chief Executive Officer Kim Junggi said in March.

The purchase by Gaw is adding to a wave of recent Asian investment in London. Hong Kong’s banking regulator bought 50 percent of a project in London’s luxury-shopping district for more than 100 million pounds ($161 million) this month. Oxley Holdings Ltd., a Singapore-based property developer, agreed earlier this month to buy an east London site where it plans to build 3,400 homes.

Blackstone Group LP, the world’s biggest manager of alternative assets such as property, is in talks to sell a west London office development to China Investment Corp., the country’s sovereign-wealth fund, a person with knowledge of the matter said this month.

Commercial Property

U.K. commercial real estate values rose for the sixth straight month in October as an economic recovery gained pace, Investment Property Databank Ltd. said Nov. 14.

The purchase is the fourth acquisition in London arranged by Gaw Capital for its clients, according to the release today. The company in July helped Ping An Insurance (Group) Co., China’s second-largest insurer, buy the Lloyd’s of London Building from a German fund, it said.

The company is raising as much as $500 million for its first fund focusing on investing in the U.S. property market, co-founder Goodwin Gaw said in an interview in Hong Kong last month. The fund will target mainly Asian investors, he said.

Luxury homes in central London have been the best performers in the U.K. since at least 2009, rising more than 60 percent from their low that year, according to broker Knight Frank LLP. Home prices in central London’s most expensive neighborhoods rose 6.8 percent in October from a year earlier, the slowest pace since December 2009, as asking prices deterred buyers, according to an index compiled by Knight Frank.

Housing prices in Central London are estimated to climb 25 percent in the next five years, Tom Eshelby, residential director at Land Securities Group Plc, the U.K.’s largest real estate investment trust, said in a Nov. 18 interview. About two-thirds of all new London homes sold before completion are being bought by Southeast Asian buyers, he said.

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