Cathay Life Insurance is to buy a London office property, its first in the UK.
The Taiwan institutional will pay around £320m (€404m) for the Woolgate Exchange building in the City district of the UK capital, according to media reports.
US private equity firm TPG and Canadian investor Ivanhoé Cambridge are selling the property, having paid £265m in January last year for the 340,000sqft Basinghall Street asset.
In May this year, Cathay Life, Taiwan’s largest insurance company, a division of Cathay Financial Holding, received approval to invest £400m in London property, according to its executive vice president, Chao-Ting Lin.
At the time, Chao-Ting Lin told IP Real Estate Cathay Life was looking to increase the pace of investment. London – as well as Tokyo – was a preferred location, he added, given its “relatively better regulations”.
Cathay Life has been increasing its exposure to real estate, from 5.6% of total assets at the end of 2012 to 10.6% as of March this year.
Cathay Life had total assets under management of TWD3,873bn (€96.1bn) as of March 2014, up 18% from the end of 2012.
Fubon Life is also considering investment in European real estate and, according to Howard Lin, spokesperson and CIO of Fubon Financial Holdings, “actively looking” for its first overseas real estate investment.
The insurer, a unit of Taiwan’s second largest financial holding company with $74bn (€55bn) in assets under management as of March, is looking at London and Paris, as well as major German cities, Howard Lin said.
The Taiwanese government’s decision to relax rules on foreign real estate investments was aimed to curb high property prices in Taiwan and allow insurance companies to improve returns on investment.