March 22, 2016 / 7:08 PM / 3 years ago

China's Fosun swoops on central London office complex: source

LONDON (Reuters) - Fosun International (0656.HK) is set to close a deal worth about 300 million pounds ($426.4 million) on Wednesday to buy the Thomas More Square complex in London in its biggest real estate transaction in Europe, a source familiar with the matter said.

Security personnel stand guard at an entrance of the headquarters of Fosun International, in Shanghai, China, December 14, 2015. RETUERS/Aly Song - RTX1YJYV

The office complex on the edge of the City of London would add another landmark estate to Fosun’s portfolio which already includes London’s Lloyds Chambers and Milan’s historic Palazzo Broggi, where Italian bank Unicredit was once headquartered.

Fosun is using Resolution Property Investment Management, a joint venture created last year with European investment firm Resolution Property, to buy the London complex from Land Securities (LAND.L), the source said on Tuesday.

London-listed Land Securities declined to comment while Fosun and Resolution had no immediate comment.

Located near St Katharine Docks in Wapping on the north of the river Thames, the Thomas More Square complex has 520,000 square feet of office space and 40,000 of retail space.

The complex was home to part of Rupert Murdoch’s UK media empire for nearly 30 years until the tycoon broke News Corp’s historic ties with Wapping in 2014 and moved his UK newspaper business to the News Building, a 17-storey office block in London Bridge, previously known as the Baby Shard.

In July, Fosun said Resolution Property Investment Management would act as its exclusive investment manager to buy interests in real estate assets across Europe.

The transaction is the latest sign the Chinese conglomerate, which owns companies ranging in sectors from pharmaceuticals to mining, remains hungry for deals.

In December, Fosun International said its President Guo Guangchang was assisting Chinese authorities with an investigation and its shares and convertible bonds were suspended briefly.

The episode sparked concern among investors about Fosun, which has been one of China’s most aggressive dealmakers, buying stakes in French chain Club Med, Britain’s Thomas Cook Group (TCG.L) and iconic U.S. building One Chase Manhattan Plaza.

Additional reporting by Carolyn Cohn in London; editing by Rachel Armstrong and David Clarke

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