Foreign investment in Scottish property to reach new record in 2019

Scotland’s commercial property market is on track for a record year of inward investment after international funds made up almost half of all purchase value in the opening six months, according to new data from Savills.

Nick Penny, head of Savills Scotland and investment team director, said: 2019 is shaping up to be a record year for inward investment. Picture: Chris Watt.

The property group revealed that £575 million of international capital was invested in Scottish commercial property in the first half of 2019, accounting for 49 per cent of all investment in the period and representing the largest share of inward capital since 2016.

The company forecast a record result for the full year and attributed the bumper figures to a strong economic performance and “more attractive” yields of Scottish property compared to other UK regions.

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Asian investors made up the largest share, investing £240m in the opening half of 2019 and significantly surpassing the £180m they invested throughout the whole of last year.

South Korean players invested more than £200m and accounted for some of the largest deals, including Edinburgh aerospace site Leonardo Innovation Hub, which changed hands for £100m in June.

However, the largest deal of the year so far went to German investors who in May bought the capital’s 4-8 St Andrew Square for £120m. European capital accounted for almost £200m of inward investment.

Nick Penny, head of Savills Scotland and investment team director, said: “2019 is shaping up to be a record year for inward investment into Scotland. Investors are attracted by the strong performance of the economy, record employment and more attractive yields on offer relative to other regional cities in the south east.

“Recent plans set out by the Government to position Scotland as a forward-looking digital nation by embracing 5G have the potential to enhance Scotland’s global competitiveness and continue to drive inward investment.”

Office space proved the most popular sector in the first half, with £494m transacted.

Edinburgh witnessed the highest level of office investment, enjoying six deals worth a combined £316m. Glasgow and Aberdeen achieved £128m and £50m, respectively.

Savills expects momentum to continue into the third quarter, with Franklin Templeton Investments’ acquiring Cameron Toll shopping centre last month for £38m on behalf of international clients.

It also forecasts assets such as The Gyle shopping centre in Edinburgh, which is on the market for £125m and Hermiston Gait Retail Park, which is seeking offers over £75m, to generate “significant attention” from overseas buyers.

Head of retail investment Mark Garmon-Jones said: “This year we have seen a real flurry of activity in Scotland as its fundamentals remain strong. Edinburgh in particular is an attractive proposition with its capital city status, large student and residential population which underpins, alongside tourist spend, the city’s retail performance.”