A new record price has been paid for a single piece of British commercial property. The deal was struck by Lee Kum Kee, the Hong Kong-based food company which specialises in producing oyster sauce and other condiments, who paid £1.3bn (HKD 13bn, $1.7bn) for the 34-storey London skyscraper known locally as the “Walkie-Talkie”.
The building, completed in 2014 and based in the City of London financial district, has a top-floor sky garden with a viewing deck, bar and restaurant on the top three floors. It attracted attention during construction when it was blamed for damaging a car by reflecting sun rays from its glazed aluminium cladding. The previous highest price for British commercial property was £1.175bn, paid for the HSBC tower in London’s Canary Wharf area by the Qatar Investment Authority in 2014.
The deal continues the trend since the Brexit vote (the 2016 referendum when Britain voted to leave the EU) of huge investment in London property from the Asia-Pacific region. Only months earlier, another new London skyscraper – known as the “Cheesegrater” – was purchased by Chinese property magnate, Cheung Chung-kiu for £1.15bn.
The drop in value of the pound against the dollar and Euro since the Brexit vote is seen as making foreign investment in Britain more attractive.