Sunday 17 December 2017

Citigroup pays €475m for Hong Kong office


Michelle Yun

CITIGROUP paid a record HK$5.4bn (€475m) to a unit of Wheelock & Co for a Hong Kong office tower that will bring most of its 5,000 employees under one roof.

The price for the 512,000 sq ft property in Kowloon is the largest ever office transaction in Hong Kong.

The tower, scheduled for completion by the end of 2015, will be used to house staff currently spread out across offices in the city, said Weber Lo, the bank's chief executive officer for Hong Kong and Macau.

Citigroup joins banks and insurers in buying buildings in the city as falling vacancies pose a challenge for companies looking for large office spaces, realtor CBRE Group Inc, which advised the deal, said in a first-quarter review report.

Manulife Financial Corp paid HK$4.5bn last year to Wheelock for a similar-size tower and development in Kowloon East, the district earmarked by the Hong Kong government as an alternative financial hub.

Central in Hong Kong's main financial district is where banks including HSBC and Goldman Sachs have their headquarters.

Hong Kong is one of the eight markets in Asia where the bank generates over $1bn of sales annually and has close to 5,000 employees, said Citigroup spokesman James Griffiths.

The purchase "underlines our belief and confidence in Hong Kong's continued growth as a leading global financial centre and hub for some of our core regional businesses," Stephen Bird, Citigroup's Asia Pacific chief executive officer, said in the statement. (Bloomberg)

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