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China ousted as Asia’s no. 1 buyer of US commercial property

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Marina Bay in Singapore
People walk along the Marina Bay next to the financial business district office buildings in Singapore on Oct. 14, 2016. -- AFP

SINGAPORE — Singapore ousted China to become the biggest Asian investor in US commercial property last year.

It was the first time since 2012 that the city outspent China, according to data from Real Capital Analytics and Cushman & Wakefield, Inc. Deals by Chinese investors plunged 66% to $5.9 billion as regulators cracked down on capital outflows.

“We expect Singapore to continue to be the single largest source of Asian investments in the US real estate markets,” said Priyaranjan Kumar, Cushman’s regional executive director of capital markets for Asia Pacific, adding that money may flow into data centers, student accommodation and logistics.

Sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte accounted for almost three-quarters of the $9.5 billion of Singaporean purchases, investing in properties including 60 Wall Street in Manhattan, which houses the US headquarters of Deutsche Bank AG, and a portfolio of student accommodation.

Real estate firm CBRE Group, Inc. anticipates similar trends in 2018, with Singapore’s institutional investors diversifying abroad and China maintaining capital controls, said Yvonne Siew, executive director for capital advisory, Asia Pacific.

Besides GIC, the Singaporean buyers of US properties included developers, real estate investment trusts and logistic companies. Singapore was no. 3 in the global rankings for US buys after Canada and France.

Singapore’s investments in commercial property globally rose by about 40% to $28.4 billion last year, beating a record set in 2015, according to the data, which include land as well as developed properties. — Bloomberg