Samsung Securities Co. Ltd. is set to acquire an office building west of Paris for 691 million euros ($778 million), following a string of recent property investments in France by South Korean institutional investors estimated at around $2 billion.
On June 5, Icade, a French property developer and investor, announced that it had signed a preliminary agreement to sell the Crystal Park building in Neuilly-sur-Seine to a leading South Korean investor. It added that a final agreement is expected to be signed by the end of July.
South Korean sources identified the buyer as Samsung Securities which is expected to sell it down to other domestic investors.
The 44,000-square-meter building is leased to auditing and consulting company PwC and three other companies.
The office complex, renovated throughout recently, includes a 20,000-square-meter park.
Samsung Securities is among the aggressive South Korean brokerage firms investing in the French real estate and infrastructure market, including Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. Ltd., Korea Investment & Securities Co. Ltd. and Hana Financial Investment Co. Ltd.
Last year the brokerage arm of the Samsung Group led a consortium of domestic brokerage firms to buy a stake of around 40% in Dunkirk LNG terminal in France for $760 million, which marked the single biggest investment by South Koreans in an infrastructure asset abroad.
Since late last year, South Korean institutional investors have snapped up office towers in Paris and its suburban areas, betting on demand from global companies which are moving Europe head offices to Paris from London.
But their expected returns have recently decreased to 5% from 7-9% because of intense competition.
By Hyunil Lee
<Edited by Yeonhee Kim>