Commercial property investment in London's West End hits record high of £1.93bn in the first quarter of 2017

Commercial property investment in London's West End has hit a record high of £1.93bn in the first quarter of 2017, driven by buyers from Hong Kong.According to Cushman & Wakefield (C&W), the figure is up by 22 per cent on the five-year first quarter average, surpassing the West End's previous record of £1.8bn in 2013.Several large deals swelled the figures, including the sales of the Ampersand Building, Soho home of the Candy Crush game headquarters, the Facebook Campus on Rathbone Square and One Kingdom Street in Paddington.

The City also enjoyed a strong first quarter, with total transaction volumes increasing nine per cent on the year prior to £2.25bn.Across the whole of central London, the total volume invested hit £4.18bn – up from £3.7bn in the same period last year and approaching the 2015 level of £4.6bn.Buyers are currently being enticed by “the currency advantage enjoyed by non-sterling investors” combined with the West End's “wealth preservation characteristics”, according to Richard Womack, C&W's head of West End capital markets.The interest comes despite Brexit-motivated concerns over the long-term leasing prospects for commercial property, with some fearing that businesses might relocate following the UK's departure from the EU.Far Eastern buyers accounted for 72 per cent of acquisition volumes in the City, a large part of which was attributable to CC Land's purchase of the Leadenhall Building, more commonly known as the Cheesegrater.UK investors, on the other hand, were net sellers, acquiring £369.3m of City stock while disposing of £1.27bn.A number of large lot size sales have recently been brought to market, with current availability standing at £2.84bn in the City and its sub-markets.

In the West End, Great Portland Estates was one seller prepared for a property downturn, selling the Facebook Campus at around a four per cent discount to its latest valuation. The development was acquired in February by German investment group Deka and real estate investment trust WestInvest Gesellschaft for £435m.Ampersand sold to Hong Kong's Emperor Group for £260m, while CC Land acquired One Kingdom Street for £292m.