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EPF buys £148m building on London's Fleet Street

LONDON: The Employees Provident Fund's (EPF) property acquisition trail in the UK is continuing with the latest purchase of a third office building there. Its latest acquisition is a building measuring 225,000 sq ft on Fleet Street for £148 million (RM717.8 million).

According to UK-based Savills plc, which brokered the deal, the building has housed law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer since 1989 and has over 10 years left on its lease. The building was acquired from German property fund Union Investment.

The EPF had announced in August last year its plans to invest around £1 billion in UK properties. Since then, it has acquired two other properties in London.

In November, the EPF together with another pension fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) purchased One Sheldon Square for £157 million. The new office building with 193,000 sq ft of office space located on the Paddington Central development was acquired from a consortium of investors including Aviva Plc, Invista SA, Henderson Global Investors and Liquid Realty Partners.

This was followed by the acquisition of 40 Portman Square, a six-storey 122,403 sq ft office block with an additional two floors housing 20 residential apartments, from European fund manager Aerium for £181 million in December.

"There has been a lack of opportunity to secure this type of product in the city of London market last year, so Union Investment has been able to achieve good results for its fund," said James Goldsmith, director in Savills Central London and International team, commenting on the Fleet Street transaction.

Savills also noted that the acquisition is an example of Asian buyers' heightened levels of investment activity in both London's City and West End markets.

The transaction is the second sale for Union investment in 2010, following the disposal of 10 Gresham Street to a joint venture between Hammerson and a Canadian pension fund for £175 million in July 2010, said Savills.
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