Chinese Investment In Overseas Real Estate Hit Record High In 2016

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Chinese Investment In Overseas Real Estate Hit Record High In 2016

By:Ellen Sheng 
Chinese buyers invested a record $33 billion in commercial and residential property last year, a nearly 53% increase from 2015, according to JLL Global Capital Flows.
The United States was the most popular destination, drawing in $14.3 billion, followed by Hong Kong, Malaysia and Australia. The United Kingdom came in fifth, down one spot from the year before.

JLL said it’s unlikely for investments in 2017 to hit the same volume as last year, due to China’s tightening capital controls. Chinese regulators stepped up oversight of capital outflows from China, which hit a high in October. Among the actions, regulators said they would need to sign off on all foreign acquisitions over $10 billion – $1 billion if outside a buyer’s core business. Regulators also said to halt all foreign real estate purchases by state-owned enterprises totaling more than $1 billion. Though the rules have been in place for a while, market watchers observed that the rules are being more strictly enforced now. Anecdotally, U.S. real estate developers and other market watchers said they’ve started to see some delays to real estate transactions by Chinese buyers as a result China’s clampdown on capital flows.

Despite this, JLL said that Chinese investment will remain a an important player in the global real estate market. Chinese investors have been eager to diversify overseas into other currencies as the renminbi has been depreciating.

“We do believe that Chinese investors will continue to be major movers of capital into global real estate for many years to come,” said David Green-Morgan, JLL Global Capital Markets Research Director in Singapore. “But a similar increase in 2017 may be challenging given the recent discussion about China monitoring its capital outflows.”

In the U.S., real estate has been among the most popular sectors for investment. Some of the most high profile Chinese investments in the U.S. last year were in real estate. In September, Anbang Insurance Group’s closed on its $6.5 billion purchase of Strategic Hotels and Resorts. In October, Chinese conglomerate HNA paid $6.49 billion to buy a 25% stake in Hilton from private equity firm Blackstone Group. And China Life Insurance acquired Starwood Capital Group for $2 billion and an office tower in Manhattan for $1.65 billion.

While investment in office towers have been common, Chinese investors are also increasingly buying land. Land acquisitions by Chinese buyers saw a 44% increase last year as Chinese developers targeted Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia. Among the more high profile deals: Boyuan Holdings, a Chinese property group, bought 40.5 hectares in western Sydney for A$70 million. In another deal, Minmetals bought a residential side in Hong Kong for HK$4 billion in August.

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