Hong Kong firm buys City skyscraper for record £1.3billion

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LONDON: A Hong Kong firm is buying up a London skyscraper for £1.3 billion (US$1.7 billion), the highest price ever paid for a single building in Britain, the property agents said on Thursday.

The iconic 34-storey building known as the “Walkie Talkie” is in the City of London’s insurance district and hit the headlines when it was blamed for damaging a parked car by reflecting the sun’s rays.

“Since the vote to leave the EU, capital targeting London from the Asia-Pacific region has increased to record levels,” said James Beckham of commercial property giant Cushman & Wakefield which advised on the deal.

“This is partly due to currency fluctuations but is more indicated of longer-term confidence in London and investment strategies which are not derailed by short-term political uncertainty,” he said.

The property agent said: “This is the UK’s largest ever office deal”.

Lee Kum Kee, a food and health products conglomerate, is buying the two 50-percent stakes in the building owned by Canary Wharf Group and Land Securities.

The building, which is fully let, includes a three-tiered sky garden with a restaurant.

The deal comes months after Chinese property magnate Cheung Chung Kiu bought another London landmark — the “Cheesegrater” building — for £1.15 billion.

The previous highest price for a single piece of British commercial property was the HSBC tower in Canary Wharf which was bought by the Qatar Investment Authority in December 2014 for £1.175 billion.