GIC said in talks to sell Paris properties to SocGen insurer

PARIS (BLOOMBERG) - GIC, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund, is in talks to sell two buildings in Paris's central business district valued at about 500 million euros (S$755 million) to Societe Generale's insurance unit, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

The adjacent properties, on Rue d'Astorg and Rue de la Ville-l'Eveque, include the French headquarters for law firm Clifford Chance LLP, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deal has not yet been completed and could still fall apart. Spokesmen at GIC, Societe Generale and Clifford Chance declined to comment.

Demand for offices in Paris's downtown business district is rising as pension funds and insurersseek investments that offer higher returns than bonds. Growing tenant demand for well- maintained space is helping to drive rents for some properties higher as the French economy improves. Investors spent 18.8 billion euros on commercial buildings in 2015, which is 7 percent more than a year earlier and the second-most after a record set in 2007, according to data compiled by Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.

GIC is also in the process of seeking buyers for the Westin Paris hotel building, which is valued at about 600 million euros, according to two people with knowledge of the plans who asked not to be identified because the sale is private. The planned sale of the Westin was first reported by CoStar News.

The real estate unit of French insurer Axa SA is among the buyers of Paris offices this year, having agreed to acquire France's tallest skyscraper - Tour First - from affiliates of Beacon Capital Partners in January.