Thu, Apr 19, 2007 - Page 12 News List

British property broker opens new Taipei branch

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Robert McKellar, left, chief executive officer for Savills Asia-Pacific, Cynthia Chu, center, general manager of Savills Taiwan, and Randall Hall, chief executive officer for Savills Greater China, place Savills flags on a map of Taiwan in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Savills Plc, a UK-based property services provider, yesterday launched a branch office in Taiwan as part of plans to tap into the nation's vibrant real estate market, which is expected to attract investment amounting to about NT$120 billion (US$3.62 billion) in the near term.

"The globalization of real estate necessitates that Savills has a presence in the key Asian cities of which Taipei is an important one," Robert McKellar, CEO of Savills Asia-Pacific, said at the inauguration ceremony in Taipei.

"Taipei is also considered by Savills to be a very important city for both inward and outward investment into real estate," he said.

Established in 1855, Savills offers a wide range of commercial, residential and mixed use real estate advisory services. The firm expanded to the Asia-Pacific region in 1998 and now has branch offices in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Tokyo, South Korea, Thailand and Singapore.

Asia-Pacific business continues to be a cornerstone of the group's growth, with the region contributing more than US$250 million to Savill's annual revenue of US$1 billion last year, he said.

The profits generated in the Asia-Pacific region amounted to US$24 million, out of US$170 million globally, he added.

Over the past four months, the value of commercial real estate transactions concluded in Taiwan hit NT$34.7 billion, with commercial centers and department stores becoming the favorite investment targets, said Cynthia Chu (朱幸兒), general manager of Savills Taiwan.

The sales of Fortuna Hotel (富都飯店), D'Mark Department Store (德安百貨) and the bazaar on Asiaworld Shopping Mall's (環亞購物中心) first and second floors were among the biggest deals, she said.

Having engaged in intensive consultation with foreign asset management and insurance firms, Chu said she estimated that NT$120 billion in capital was ready to pour into Taiwan's real estate market.

Peter Yuen (袁志光), the senior director of Savills Hong Kong's investment and residential sales division, agreed that Taiwan had become an attractive investment target for overseas buyers.

Although growth in the local market has been lagging behind the global trend over the past few years, it is picking up the pace, Yuen said.

The anticipated liberalization of transportation and tourism across the Taiwan Strait will further fuel the growth momentum, he said.

One driving force will be from overseas Taiwanese businesspeople seeking to invest their cash in the local property market for a higher yield if cross-strait political tensions were to ease, he said.

The importance of Taiwanese investors in other parts of Asia, especially in China and emerging markets such as Vietnam, is significant, McKellar said.

Having an office in Taiwan will allow Savills to deal directly with the local market and provide investors with property services in overseas markets, he said.

Meanwhile, Savills Taiwan announced that it had been selected as the leading agency for the World Trade Tower, a 17-floor building at the intersection of Xinyi and Keelung Road in Taipei City. The monthly rent for the office

building is NT$2,200 per ping. The total floor area is 1,128 ping (3,729m<<2>>).

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