Korea Post has bought the corporate headquarters of Natixis, the French financial institution, in central Paris for €176m.
La Française confirmed it acquired the eight-storey building on Boulevard Montmartre on behalf of the South Korean institution.
It is Korea Post’s first real estate investment in France, which in June paid US$250m (€223m) for a 47% stake in a building leased to Amazon, in New York.
The savings arm of Korea’s national postal agency manages KRW111trn (€88bn) in assets.
Law firm Ashurst, which was involved in the transaction, said BNP Paribas and ING Bank had jointly granted a €104m facility for the acquisition.
In the past three years, Asian investors, mostly from South Korea – including Korea Post and Samsung SRA Asset Management – have mandated La Française to seek out investments for them in Europe.
With the latest deal, La Française has purchased more than €1bn in assets on behalf of its Asian institutional investors.
David Rendall, head of international real estate business development for La Française, told IPE Real Estate that Samsung SRA bought the So Ouest office building in Paris CBD. It is Samsung’s single largest acquisition.
The building has been fully let to SAP France and Pharmaceutical Research Associates since 2014.
“We see Korean capital being very active and probably very long-term in its appetite for core European real estate,” Rendall told an event in Singapore organised by IPE Real Estate.
He said Asian institutions favour three key markets in Europe: UK, France and Germany.
“For them, the UK remains the gateway to Europe,” he said. ”They tend to go to London first, then to Paris and to German cities.
“Post-Brexit, we continue to see significant interest from Asian investors in the UK market.
“We are very focused on core because our investors want steady returns. If we can turn in a capital gain, that is fine, but most of our investors are after income.”
Rendall said the European market is now on a “better footing”. He added: “We had a period of low supply, but now rental values are firming, and incentives are going down. We see signs of rents going up in markets in continental Europe.”
The La Française’s house view, he said, is that interest rates will remain low for the foreseeable future and that this will impact the price of real estate.
Demand for the best quality real estate will remain greater than supply.