Qatar buys landmark Asia Square Tower in Singapore for record US$2.45 billion

The acquisition of Asian Square Tower 1 by Qatar marks the largest single tower real estate transaction in Asia Pacific and second-largest single-tower real estate deal globally

SINGAPORE – Asia Square Tower 1 in Singapore has been sold by a BlackRock-advised fund to the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) for about S$3.4 billion (US$2.45 billion).

John Saunders, managing director and the Hong Kong-based head of Asia-Pacific for BlackRock’s real estate business, said the deal is the largest single-tower real estate transaction ever for Asia, as well as the largest anywhere in the world since the global financial crisis.

The deal is also the biggest in Singapore in terms of dollar amount and square footage with QIA paying US$1,960 (S$2,667.5) per sq. ft. JLL and CBRE jointly advised BlackRock on the deal.

The 43-storey tower comprises more than 1.2 million square feet of Grade A office space and nearly 40,000 square feet of retail space.

‘The sale of Asia Square Tower 1 to the Qatar Investment Authority underlines the strong demand for prime core assets around the world, and the ongoing appeal of real estate as a prized asset class,’ said Robin Blain, executive chairman, CBRE Asia Pacific.

With the Asia Square Tower I deal’s completion, there will still be only two Asia-based transactions in that group, as the October 2014 purchase of Pacific Century Place Marunouchi by $300 billion Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC from an arm of Hong Kong-based alternatives firm PAG for $1.7 billion falls to 11th place on JLL‘s list.

The office tower is located in Singapore’s Marina Bay business and financial district and bears the branding of its anchor tenant, Citibank.

The record-breaking sale comes at a time when rent prices at Singapore’s Marina Bay area are under downward pressure and Google, which currently occupies 120,000 square feet of the office tower, is looking to relocate.

Jeremy Lake, executive director, Investment Properties, CBRE Singapore, added: “We courted some of the world’s largest funds and leading investors for this exercise and without exception, all of them were in agreement that Asia Square is a premium office asset; the building quality and superior location in the expanding Marina Bay are indisputable.

Asia Square — Tower 1 and Tower 2 — was developed by MGPA, a real estate firm acquired by BlackRock in 2013, “from the ground up,” Mr. Saunders said.

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