Hana Financial in talks to buy landmark property in London

LONDON • South Korea's Hana Financial Group is in talks to buy a landmark office property opposite the Bank of England that is being transformed into a major WeWork co-working space, according to people with knowledge of the plan.

Aermont Capital, the owner of the building at One Poultry, is seeking about £185 million (S$326 million), the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

A spokesman for Aermont and an official at Hana Financial declined to comment.

The terms of the transaction have not yet been finalised and there is no certainty the deal will be completed, the people said.

Korean investors have been pouring into London real estate this year, lured by higher returns than other Western European capitals and lower currency hedging costs than in the United States, where interest rates have risen further and faster.

Pension funds and securities firms from the region are on track to spend about £4 billion on property in Britain this year including major deals for buildings such as Goldman Sachs' European headquarters, according to a forecast by broker Cushman & Wakefield.

  • $326m

    Asking price for the office building.

The One Poultry building occupies a prime spot in the centre of the City of London financial district and has historic protections.

The property is being modernised for WeWork, which leased the space last year after previous tenant Aviva moved out. The co-working company is the largest private office tenant in London.

Leasing space to WeWork can have a downside. A study by Cushman & Wakefield found that properties for which WeWork accounts for more than 40 per cent of the rent typically sell for lower prices.

Moody's Investor Service last week dropped its ratings of WeWork and its inaugural bond deal, citing a lack of information about the company's creditworthiness.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2018, with the headline 'Hana Financial in talks to buy landmark property in London'. Print Edition | Subscribe