Financier George Soros has embarked on an ambitious plan to spend nearly $4 billion on commercial properties located throughout England. The massive shopping spree began last month when Soros spent nearly $600 million on two large office developments in London.
Soros will be buying the commercial properties through Delancey, a private investment firm that invests chiefly in the U.K. Soros backs the London-based property firm.
Over the past two years, Soros has used Delancey to sell off several hundred million pounds worth of British properties. Now, however, Soros will use the firm to make large-scale real estate investments throughout Britain.
"The [British] market is very strong but it's difficult to say it's peaking as there remains a considerable weight of money seeking exposure to the commercial property market," says Clive Bull, a partner in the investment properties group at brokerage Cushman & Wakefield Healey & Baker's London office.
"Stock is in short supply, but there's also some profit taking going on," he adds, suggesting that many landlords may see this as an opportune moment to sell.
Indeed, the British commercial real estate market is coming off a strong year. Colliers CRE reports that total returns on British commercial properties registered 18% in 2004—the market's best performance since 1993. Colliers projects 2005 yields (on all properties) to come in around 10%, or roughly half that of 2004.