Waldorf to Be Biggest Chinese Property Purchase in U.S.

New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel is set to become the biggest prize yet for buyers from China who have been pouring money into U.S. real estate as they seek stable investments outside their country.

Beijing’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. agreed to pay $1.95 billion for the 1,232-room tower on Park Avenue, an Art Deco landmark and one of Manhattan’s signature properties. That would be the highest price for a single existing hotel in the country, and the most paid for a standing U.S. building by a Chinese buyer, said Kevin Mallory, global head of the hotels unit of commercial real estate brokerage CBRE Group Inc. (CBG)

“We’re seeing a diversification strategy being employed by insurance companies and others, and it’s also true when it comes to private Chinese investors,” he said in a telephone interview. “We’ve seen a lot of wealth generated there over the last decade, and we see see private investors diversifying their portfolio around the globe.”

The Waldorf deal follows such high-profile New York acquisitions as Shanghai-based Greenland Holding Group Inc.’s purchase this year of a 70 percent interest in the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. In late 2013, billionaire Guo Guangchang’s Fosun International Ltd. paid $725 million for lower Manhattan’s 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza, the former headquarters of Chase Manhattan Bank.

GM Building

Earlier last year, a group including Zhang Xin, co-founder of Shanghai’s Soho China Ltd. (410), took a 40 percent stake in midtown Manhattan’s General Motors Building, one of New York’s most-valuable office towers, said Doug Murphy, director of analytics at Real Capital Analytics Inc., a research firm that tracks commercial real estate sales. That $1.4 billion deal was the largest Chinese purchase of a U.S. building before the pending Waldorf sale, he said.

Single Property

The size of the Waldorf deal is another attraction, said Bruce Ford, senior vice president and director of global business development at Lodging Econometrics Inc., a Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based research firm.

“If you have $2 billion to invest, isn’t it easier to buy one asset at arguably the greatest address in the world rather than 10 different ones?” he said.

Full article: Waldorf to Be Biggest Chinese Property Purchase in U.S. (Bloomberg)

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