January 26, 2015 / 11:41 AM / 3 years ago

China's overseas property investment to reach $20 bln in 2015-study

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BEIJING, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Chinese investors are set to fork out $20 billion on offshore property this year, up 21 percent on 2014 as more domestic real estate developers and insurers internationalise their holdings, Jones Lang LaSalle Inc said on Monday.

Chinese offshore property investment had increased 46 percent to $16.5 billion last year on the year before, with nearly 70 percent going to commercial real estate, the property consultancy said in a report.

Outbound spending on commercial property, including office buildings, for the first time outpaced domestic investment, the company said.

"The easing of restrictions over the last a few years by the Chinese government has (made it) ... much easier for institutions as well as individuals to move money overseas," said David Green-Morgan, the Singapore-based head of global research for International Capital Group at JLL.

Big Chinese insurers, including Ping An Insurance Group Co of China and Anbang Insurance Group Co, have emerged as major buyers in global markets.

Earlier this month Ping An, China's second-biggest insurer, bought the Tower Place office block in London for £327 million, having previously bought the Lloyds of London insurance building.

Last October, Anbang agreed to buy New York City's Waldorf Astoria hotel for $1.95 billion.

Driving China's outbound insurance investments are 2012 rules changes by the country's insurance regulator that allowed companies to invest in real estate outside of the mainland and Hong Kong.

As of the end of 2014, Chinese insurers invested nearly $24 billion outside China, accounting for 1.4 percent of the industry's total assets, said Zhou Yanli, vice chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission at a press briefing last Friday.

Last year, about 20 percent of insurance investment overseas went to real estate, Zhou added.

Chinese property developers, including Dalian Wanda Group Co, have also moved to globalise their portfolios to ensure long-term returns as China's property market cools.

Dalian Wanda on Monday announced a $1 billion investment to purchase two buildings at Sydney Harbour, the Chinese conglomerate's second investment in Australia.

Europe was the most popular destination for Chinese overseas property investment in 2014, raking in $5.5 billion, JLL said. London topped the list of favourite cities with $4 billion capital inflow, followed by Sydney and New York City. (Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by David Holmes)

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