China Life in $1.65bn Manhattan tower buy

The Chinese insurer along with a consortium of investors has closed one of the largest commercial office transactions in New York this year.

China Life Insurance, together with a consortium of investors, has acquired a Manhattan commercial property for $1.65 billion.

The deal to acquire the 1285 Avenue of the Americas, a mixed-use office-cum retail tower, was led by RXR Realty, a New York-headquartered investment management and development firm. The Chinese insurer is said to be the largest investor in the transaction.

The purchase is being pegged as the highest value office building transaction in New York City this year. Earlier this year, another Chinese institution – the sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation (CIC) – closed on two large property transactions in the US. The purchase of a 52-storey office tower in Chicago in April for $539 million marked CIC’s first real estate buy in the US since 2010. In less than a month CIC went on to acquire a 49 percent stake in a Manhattan office tower called 1 New York Plaza in a deal reportedly valued at $700 million.

China Life Insurance, one of China’s largest cross-border real estate investors, has been increasing its exposure to the US property market with some landmark transactions across sectors. Late last year, the insurer formed a partnership with Global Logistic Properties, and two other Asian institutional investors, to acquire a US logistics portfolio valued at approximately $4.5 billion from Industrial Income Trust (IIT), a Denver-based national industrial real estate investment trust (REIT). The entire portfolio was acquired for $1.9 billion in equity. China Life Insurance reportedly contributed around $1 billion for a 30 percent stake.

The law firm Paul Hastings represented China Life in the 1285 Avenue of Americas transaction.