SoftBank's Son buys Tokyo Tiffany building for $326 mln -sources

TOKYO Tue Oct 1, 2013 1:15am EDT

TOKYO Oct 1 (Reuters) - The billionaire founder of tech and telecoms group SoftBank Corp bought Tokyo's landmark Tiffany Building for 32 billion yen ($326 million) in one of the priciest property deals in recent years in Japan, underscoring the recovery in the real estate market.

Masayoshi Son, ranked Japan's second-richest man by Forbes, outbid sovereign wealth funds and Japanese corporations for the 10-storey glass structure in Tokyo's Ginza luxury shopping district, which was put on sale by Asia Pacific Land, people with direct knowledge of the transaction said.

The building, in Tokyo's Ginza luxury shopping district, houses the flagship Japan store of jewellers Tiffany & Co and was designed by architect Kengo Kuma.

It was not immediately clear why Son had purchased the building, or how he would finance the deal. SoftBank declined to comment while Asia Pacific Land could not be reached for comment.

The people close to the deal declined to be identified because they are not authorised to talk to the media.

The purchase price would yield an estimated capitalisation rate of 2.6 percent, based on expected future rental income, well short of the minimum 4 percent that Japan's real estate investment trusts typically seek.

The capitalisation rate is also reminiscent of the 2 percent yield on some of the most expensive deals of a property boom in Japan that peaked in 2006.

"Property funds and real estate trusts need certain returns so they will stay away from this level of competition," said Takashi Ishizawa, chief real estate analyst at Mizuho Securities Co.

"I expect future players could be non-property firms who want to diversify their revenue sources from their core business."

Asia Pacific Land, a property investment group operating in China and Japan, had been seeking a buyer for the Tiffany Building as Japan's property market rebounded in recent months on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's reflationary policies.

But with foreign investors also joining the search for prospective properties, concerns are mounting that a speculative bubble may be forming in certain parts of the market.

Aareal Bank AG and Westdeutsche ImmobilienBank had financed Asia Pacific Land's purchase of the Tiffany Building in 2010.

Son holds a 21.8 percent stake in SoftBank, Japan's third-biggest company by market capitalisation.

SoftBank has attracted attention for its bold acquisition strategy, including this year's $21.6 billion purchase of No.3 U.S. wireless carrier Sprint. The company also holds 36.7 percent of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group.

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