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Majority of City offices owned by foreign investors

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Foreign investors now own more than half of all offices in the City of London, according to a new report by Development Securities

According to the Who Owns the City report, 52 per cent of all offices in the square mile are owned by foreigners.

The trend for outside investment has grown dramatically in the last 30 years, up from just 8 per cent in 1980.

Foreign investors have continued to increase their share of the market despite the macro economic uncertainty, accounting for 66 per cent of acquisitions by value since 2008.

London as a whole attracts more inward offices investment than any other city in the world.

The research, conducted by Cambridge University, also found a changing profile for city office ownership, with private ownership by high net worth individuals growing to at least six per cent, while traditional ownership by property companies and institutions has shrunk from 29 per cent in 2005 to 17 per cent in 2011.

Germany remains the largest overseas investor with a 16 per cent share of ownership, followed by the US with 10 per cent.

Middle Eastern ownership has increased to 6 per cent while Japanese holdings have dropped to 2 per cent against a peak of 11 per cent in the early 1990s.

Development Securities chief executive Michael Marx said: ‘London’s attractiveness to foreign investors has clearly been undeterred by the widespread economic turmoil.

‘City offices are perceived to offer quality and transparency – a ‘safe haven’ for foreign buyers who have, in turn, deepened liquidity in the market. It could be argued that these overseas investors, now in the majority, are critical to future values in the City. The question is: will the level of foreign ownership continue to rise dramatically?

‘It is clear that the viability of City offices continues to depend on the strength of London’s financial services sector. The specialisation of international financial services in London has served to make the fortunes of owners and occupiers intrinsically linked, creating a highly volatile, one-horse town. The challenge for policymakers will be to ensure that the financial services sector, the very life blood of the City, can continue to flourish.’

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