AXA-led consortium buys London trophy for £472m

Chinese state-owned investment company Gingko Tree Investment is understood to be among the three investors led by AXA in the purchase of Ropemaker Place, a prime office building in the City, from London-listed REIT British Land.

AXA Real Estate Investment Managers (REIM), the real estate investment management arm of French insurer AXA, has completed the £472 million (€539 million; $703 million) acquisition of one of central London’s biggest office buildings.

AXA REIM, which manages more than €45 billion of real estate globally, and a group of investors that include Gingko Tree Investment, the Chinese state investment company, and two others have purchased Ropemaker Place, a prime office building in the City of London, in a deal reflecting a 5 percent yield. The seller was British Land, the London-listed REIT.

The consortium has purchased a property that comprises 602,000 square feet of office space with ancillary retail, let to tenants that include Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi and Macquarie Bank for an average of 14 years. The asset produces an annual income of £24 million, although that amount is subject to contractual increases.

AXA REIM noted that the investment was the second large central London office acquisition on behalf of investors in the past six months.

Anne Kavanagh, global head of asset management at AXA Real Estate, said:  “This acquisition of Ropemaker Place is a further demonstration of our ability both to source core investment-grade product across Europe and to bring together international institutional investment partners with similar investment criteria into club deals and joint ventures.”

Ginko Tree has become increasingly acquisitive in the UK lately. The company is a London-registered investment platform for the People’s Bank of China, which in turn is controlled by the Investment Company of the People’s Republic of China. In February, the company bought into an office in Manchester and, last year, it purchased another office in London called Drapers Gardens from investment group Evans Randall.