DUBAI, Sept 9 (Reuters) - The value of Middle East investments in real estate outside the region surged 64 percent to $11.5 billion in the first half of 2015, although two deals by sovereign funds accounted for nearly half this year’s total, consultants CBRE wrote on Wednesday.
The splurge came despite a 44 percent drop in U.S. light crude oil prices in the 12 months to June 30.
The CBRE said sovereign wealth funds accounted for $8.3 billion of the spending in the first six months of this year - almost quadruple their outlay of $2.27 billion in the prior-year period.
“The size of the region’s foreign investment makes the Middle East the third-largest source of cross regional capital globally as Arab investors look for brighter investment prospects internationally,” Nick Maclean, CBRE Middle East managing director, said in the statement.
This year’s spending includes Qatar’s $2.5 billion investment in Maybourne Hotels and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority’s (ADIA) $2.4 billion purchase of a 50 percent stake in three Hong Kong hotels.
These deals helped make London, with $2.75 billion, and Hong Kong, with $2.4 billion, the top destinations for Middle Eastern property investors. New York was third with $1.1 billion and Milan’s $990 million placed it fourth.
In terms of sectors, hotel investments rose 437 percent to $6.75 billion - or 59 percent of total Middle East spending - while office acquisitions fell by nearly half to $1.99 billion and retail purchases dropped 40 percent to $708 million.
Other buys, which include residential property, jumped 144 percent to $1.66 billion.
“Hotels (are) growing in importance as sovereign wealth funds and high-net-worth individuals focus on real assets that generate long-term revenue,” said Iryna Pylypchuk of CBRE Global Research.
Property purchases by non-sovereign wealth funds fell to $3.2 billion in the first half of 2015, from $4.7 billion a year earlier, according to Reuters calculations based on CBRE data. (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Mark Heinrich)