Gangnam style: KKR to invest in office property in southern Seoul

SEOUL (Reuters) – A group of companies led by KKR & Co (KKR.N) will invest in an existing real estate project under construction in the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea, hoping to cash in on one of the world’s fastest-rising commercial property markets.

FILE PHOTO: Trading information for KKR & Co is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., August 23, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The U.S. private equity firm will invest along with South Korea’s National Pension Service and IGIS Asset Management, the country’s biggest real estate fund manager, KKR said in a statement on Wednesday.

The project will include office space, retail space, and a five-star hotel, with a gross floor area of 239,188 square meters (2.6 million square feet), the statement said, adding that the investment would be KKR’s third real estate investment in South Korea.

The total cost of the project is expected to be about 2.1 trillion won, or $1.9 billion, which includes the purchase price paid by the group and other costs, KKR said.

The project is KKR’s biggest real estate investment in South Korea, said a spokeswoman at the private equity firm.

Since 2011, KKR has committed about $2 billion in equity and debt across nearly 50 real estate transactions in Asia Pacific markets.

Seoul’s affluent southern Gangnam district gained international fame thanks to the song and music video for Gangnam Style by South Korean pop star Psy.

The area of the South Korean capital is home to one of the major offices of Samsung Group, though the company agreed in September to sell the building for 748 billion won ($660 million). Hyundai Motor Group will also build its new headquarters in Gangnam.

Investors spent $10.4 billion on office assets in Seoul in the 12 months through June 2018, second only to Hong Kong in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a report by Real Capital Analytic.

Seoul registered the fifth-fastest price growth of major global markets in the second quarter, with commercial property prices rising by 7.8 percent year-over-year, according to the report released this month.

KKR in January sold a prime office complex in central Seoul, which it bought in 2014. KKR did not release the price, but real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield said the deal was priced at 713 billion won, or 28.1 million won per pyeong (3.3 square meters), a record high for an office building.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in Seoul; Additional reporting by Kane Wu in Hong Kong; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Christian Schmollinger

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