China 'invested $14b in foreign real estate'

Chinese investments in foreign real estate hit US$10 billion (S$13.6 billion) last year for the first time, a new report has found.

However, in one field - commercial property purchases in Australia - China played second fiddle to Singapore, the No. 1 investor in that area. The United States came in third.

In the nine years up until the middle of last year, Singapore investors accounted for a 28 per cent share or US$5.3 billion of foreign commercial property investments in Australia, CBRE said.

Chinese investors are mainly acquiring properties in the US, Britain and Australia, the firm added.

"The past two years have seen an explosive growth in purchases of offshore real estate by Chinese investors, including high net-worth individuals, corporations and institutional investors.

Each of the groups, however, is driven by a different set of motivational factors, said Mr Frank Chen, executive director and head of CBRE Research in China.

He added that these factors could range from purchasing a property to live in to obtaining a wider range of investment properties.

The influx of Chinese investments into the US and Britain could be attributed to the size of each nation's economy and international financial centres.

However, of the three countries, Australia has relied largely on the strength of its commercial ties with China, its largest trading partner, to drive these investments.

According to the latest research by CBRE, Chinese investors have focused on offices, with hotel and retail investments also significant.

For instance, Dalian Wanda, one of China's biggest property developers, has bought a prime office asset in Goldfields House in Sydney and plans to develop it into a place for commercial and residential use.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2015, with the headline 'China 'invested $14b in foreign real estate''. Print Edition | Subscribe