* Kokusai Akasaka Building deal expected to close by Monday
* Deal confirms revival in Tokyo commercial property market
* Land prices up in big Japan cities for 1st time in 6 years
(Adds other property deals, trends in market recovery)
By Junko Fujita
TOKYO, March 28 Japan's Sekisui House Ltd
is buying an office tower in central Tokyo for 74
billion yen ($720 million), as property prices rise to levels
that allow lenders to recoup losses from a bust that followed
the global financial crisis.
The Osaka-based home builder has agreed to buy the
20-storey, 41-year-old Kokusai Akasaka Building in an upscale
commercial and business district, according to four people
briefed on the deal. The tower is largely occupied by affiliates
of NTT DoCoMo Inc, Japan's largest mobile phone
The deal, expected to close by Monday, confirms the ongoing
revival in Tokyo's prime commercial property market after an
ill-fated series of highly leveraged investments that failed
spectacularly after a 2006-2007 real estate boom collapsed.
The value of the Kokusai Akasaka property had cratered after
it was bought in 2006 by then-aggressive property investor K.K.
daVinci Holdings for about 100 billion yen, almost entirely
financed by debt.
Another daVinci property, an iconic office tower in
south-central Tokyo's Shiba district, was bought last year by a
group including United States insurance magnate Maurice "Hank"
Greenberg's C.V. Starr & Co and Asia Pacific Land.
Investors are returning to the property market in Japan,
where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's aggressive government spending
and loose-money policies have started to pull the economy out of
15 years of deflation.
Land prices in Japan's three largest cities - Tokyo, Osaka
and Nagoya - rose for the first time in six years last year and
declines slowed elsewhere, a government survey showed this
The debt behind the 2006 Kokusai Akasaka deal was packaged
into 97.5 billion yen of commercial mortgage-backed securities
arranged by Lehman Brothers, the investment bank whose failure
triggered the global crisis.
When the market collapsed in 2008, investors could not make
payments on the loans and the building's ownership shifted to a
group of lenders.
A Sekisui House spokesman declined to comment.
The company largely relies on housing property for its
revenue, earning just 2.4 percent of its 1.8 trillion yen in
sales from office properties last year.
It owns the Osaka landmark Hommachi Garden City, Tokyo's
Garden City Shinagawa Gotenyama and the Ritz-Carton, Kyoto
building in Japan's ancient capital of Kyoto.
($1 = 102.1350 Japanese Yen)
(Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by William Mallard, Edmund
Klamann and Kenneth Maxwell)