UPDATE 2-Singapore's GIC, partners to buy $1.3 bln Time Warner office space

Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:33am EST

* Singapore SWF, Abu Dhabi SWF, US real estate firm buying 1.1 mln sq ft of Time Warner Center

* Purchase follows GIC's recent $2.8 bln deal for London real estate

* Deal prompted by rising property prices, accelerating economic growth

* Time Warner to shift all corporate operations under one roof to save money

Jan 17 (Reuters) - Singapore's GIC Pte Ltd is partnering a group of investors to buy $1.3 billion worth of Manhattan office space from Time Warner Inc, as the sovereign wealth fund steps up its purchases of real estate where it sees increasing value.

GIC, which has signalled its investments are driven by opportunity rather than geography, has been buying up real estate in developed markets as property prices recover from lows hit during the 2008-9 financial crisis.

Just three weeks ago, GIC partnered British Land Co Plc to buy London office and retail space from U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group LP for around 1.7 billion pounds ($2.78 billion).

In its latest deal, GIC, together with a venture of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) as well as U.S. real estate firm Related Companies, will buy 1.1 million square feet of office space in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle.

The consortium will lease the office space until early 2019 to Time Warner, which is moving all its business units from HBO to CNN under one roof at the Hudson Yards development to save money.

"Economic data from the U.S. and U.K. is getting a little more bullish, so GIC is trying to capitalize," said Chua Hak Bin, an economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Singapore.

"Real estate has always been part of its diversified portfolio."

The World Bank this week raised its global economic expansion forecast for the first time in three years as growth picked up pace in developed countries.

The bank expects stronger growth in the United States in particular, at 2.8 percent this year compared with 1.8 percent last year.

OPPORTUNITY-DRIVEN

GIC has also recently invested in Indian and Indonesian real estate, but the size of those deals pale in comparison to those in New York and London.

Real estate accounted for about 10 percent of the fund's assets at the end of March, according to its last annual report.

In the report, it said "asset-specific conditions and risk are among the factors that influence investment decisions."

GIC ranks as the world's eighth largest fund with $285 billion worth of assets, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.

The institute ranks ADIA at No.3 with $627 billion worth of assets ranging from bonds of Citigroup Inc to a stake in Britain's Gatwick Airport.

ADIA allocates 5 to 10 percent of its portfolio to real estate and prefers to invest mainly through third-party fund managers or joint venture agreements, it said in its 2012 annual review.