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The Top 10 Foreign Real Estate Investors In DC

Tokyo-based Unizo made headlines this summer with several DC office acquisitions. Although it jumped on the scene quickly, Unizo still has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to be the largest foreign property holder in the District. Using data compiled by Real Capital Analytics, we ranked the top 10 foreign-based holders of DC properties by total square footage. 

10. ArzteVersorgung Westfalen-Lippe

Patriots Plaza 395 E St SW
  • Country: Germany
  • Investor Type: Pension Fund
  • Number of Properties: 3 (all office)
  • Total Square Footage: 980k SF

This German pension fund in December bought the three-building Patriots Plaza office complex at 355, 375 and 395 E St SW, above, from MEPT and Bentall Kennedy. The buildings were built by MEPT and Trammell Crow and delivered in phases between 2005 and 2009. 

9. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority

International Square 1850 K Street NW
  • Country: United Arab Emirates
  • Investor Type: Sovereign Wealth Fund
  • Number of Properties: 1 (office)
  • Total Square Footage: 1M SF

Abu Dhabi's wealth fund is one of the largest foreign buyers of US real estate. It has an $850M portfolio in New York City, including the iconic Chrysler Building. ADIA's DC portfolio is smaller- its one office property is the 1M SF International Square at 1850 K St NW, above, in a JV with Tishman Speyer

8. Unizo

1030 15th St NW
The Executive Building at 1030 15th St. NW, Unizo's most expensive acquisition.
  • Country: Japan
  • Investor Type: Public holding company
  • Number of Properties: 4 (all office)
  • Total Square Footage: 1M SF

The newest foreign buyer to make a splash in the DC market, Tokyo-based Unizo has been on an acquisition spree lately. Last week it bought the Executive Building at 1030 15th St NW, above, from Invesco for $228M. The week before, it acquired the CNN-anchored NoMa building at 820 First St NE for $140.5M. Earlier in August, it bought 1100 First St NE and 50 F St NW

Georgetown real estate professor Matthew Cypher says he was surprised Unizo is the only Asian investor on the list, and wonders what caused the company's rapid activity.

"It's interesting how Unizo has become very active in the marketplace in a very short period of time," Matthew says. "We've got an investor with meaningful capital making a large investment in DC."

7. CPP Investment Board

Warner Building 1299 Pennsylvania Ave
  • Country: Canada
  • Investor Type: Pension Fund
  • Number of Properties: 3 (all office)
  • Total Square Footage: 1.1M SF

In 2010, this Toronto-based Pension fund, in a JV with Vornado, bought the Warner Building at 1299 Pennsylvania Ave NW, above, for $445M. The JV acquired 1101 17th St NW at the same time.

6. Manulife Financial

Del Ray Central
  • Country: Canada
  • Investor Type: Insurance
  • Number of Properties: 4 (3 office, 1 multifamily)
  • Total Square Footage: 1.2M SF

The only multifamily owner on this list, Toronto-based Manulife owns the 256-unit Del Ray Central apartments in Alexandria, above. In August 2015, as part of a JV with John Hancock, it bought 1750 Pennsylvania Ave NW, a 282k SF building a block from the White House, for $182M

Matthew was not surprised that the majority of foreign-owned properties are offices. 

"For lower-risk profile investors, this fits perfectly," Matthew says "It's principally office investments, you’re able to get a fairly large amount of capital placed in a singular asset, instead of buying a bunch of $50M assets."

5. Norges Bank

PNC Place 800 17th Street NW
  • Country: Norway
  • Investor Type: Sovereign Wealth Fund
  • Number of Properties: 5 (all office)
  • Total Square Footage: 1.8M SF Office

This Oslo-based investor in 2014 bought PNC Place, above, in a JV with TIAA-CREF for $392M, at $1,075/SF, a then-record price. That same year, it bought the 782k SF Thurmond Arnold building at 555 12th St NW in a JV with MetLife for $497M at $635/SF. 

4. AustralianSuper

The Top 10 Foreign Real Estate Investors In DC
  • Country: Australia 
  • Investor type: Pension Fund
  • Number of Properties: 7 (all office)
  • Total Square Footage: 1.9M SF

The Melbourne-based pension fund bought a 49% stake from Brookfield in its seven-building DC office portfolio, which includes 1200 K St NW, above.

"This transaction allows AustralianSuper to substantially increase its direct holdings in offshore property, in line with its strategy of investing in established assets with strong long-term growth potential,” the fund's head of property, Jack McGougan, said in a release at the time. 

3. Alony Hetz

1615 L Street NW
  • Country: Israel
  • Investor Type: Investment Manager
  • Number of Properties: 9 (all office)
  • Total Square Footage: 1.9M SF office

Alony Hetz, which owns a 45% stake in Carr Properties, owns five office buildings in the District, two in Bethesda, one in Arlington and one in Alexandria. With its development partner, last year it purchased 1615 L St NW, above, for $230M from Spitzer Enterprises

2. Jamestown

Jamestown Properties Georgetown
  • Country: Germany
  • Investor Type: Investment Manager
  • Number of Properties: 27 (20 retail, 7 office)
  • Total Square Footage: 1.3M SF office, 1M SF retail

By far the most prolific retail owner on this list, German-backed Jamestown owns more than a dozen high-end retail properties in Georgetown, including the storefront above. Last year it bought America's Square from Ralph Dweck for $508M, or $1,101/SF, the most expensive office sale in DC history.

1. Brookfield

650 Massachusetts Ave
  • Country: Canada
  • Investor Type: Public Asset Manager
  • Number of Properties: 10 (all office)
  • Total Square Footage: 3.9M SF

Brookfield retained majority stake in the seven-building DC portfolio it sold to AustralianSuper last year. Its DC portfolio includes 650 Massachusetts Ave NW, above, right next to Capitol Crossing's construction site. It also has transformed the former KPMG offices at 2001 M St into an unrecognizable, glass-clad marvel. The Canadian owner/developer also owns six NoVa buildings and seven suburban Maryland properties. Brookfield's Greg Meyer will speak at Bisnow's DC State of Office on October 13