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Knight Frank IM targets Asian investors with partner hire

The investment arm of property services firm Knight Frank said it hired City of London property specialist David Johnson from Cushman & Wakefield to help its roster of Korean investors to invest in the UK. 

Knight Frank Investment Management (KFIM), the investment division of property services firm Knight Frank, has appointed David Johnson as partner as the firm looks to capitalize on its growing Asian investor base.

In recent weeks, the firm has made two acquisitions on behalf of a number of Korean institutional investors. The most significant of these was the £100 million ($129.1 million; €113.2 million) purchase of a logistics center, near Birmingham, managed by UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s.

Kevin Atchison, KFIM chief executive, said the firm’s current strategic priority was to strengthen its partnerships in the Asian market, particularly Korea, and Johnson’s appointment and knowledge of the City of London would facilitate that.

Johnson, who has 17 years of industry experience, joined KFIM from Cushman & Wakefield, the Chicago-based property services firm, where he has spent the last two years advising on City of London property transactions.

Prior to joining Cushman, Johnson spent two years as associate partner at London-based private equity real estate investor Aurum Real Estate. Before that he also spent nine years as associate partner at UK property services firm Allsop.

“Following the recent closing of our first two acquisitions on behalf of Korean institutional investors, and new allocations of capital from UK investors last year, we identified David as someone who could provide additional depth and strength to our existing team,” said Atchison. “With over 17 years of experience in the transactional markets, he will focus primarily on sourcing and identifying stock that will meet our clients’ targeted investment returns,” he added.

Johnson’s appointment comes amid a flurry of high profile City of London office investments by Asian investors. Recent big-ticket deals in the UK capital include the £1.15 billion purchase of the Leadenhall Building, or “Cheesegrater”, and the £300m deal for London’s One Kingdom Street building, both by Hong Kong-based CC Land Holdings.

The £315 million property at 20 Gresham Street was also snapped up by investors at China Resources Limited, while the Singapore-based Ho Bee Land purchased 67 Lombard Street for £129 million.