Is London’s office market a bargain?

Private-equity groups are swooping on London’s property companies, which are trading on steep discounts to net asset value.

New York’s commercial property is in trouble, say Julia-Ambra Verlaine and Sebastian Pellejero in The Wall Street Journal. Last month only 10% of office workers in Manhattan had returned to their desks. The pain could spread beyond New York. Wall Street “slices” property loans and packages them as commercial mortgage-backed securities. Pension funds and asset managers worldwide participate in this “half-trillion-dollar” debt market, but prices are falling. Some lower-rated US commercial mortgage bonds are trading on between “70 cents to 50 cents on the dollar”.

London property is also in crisis, but these “comatose days” for offices “will not last forever”, says Jim Armitage in the Evening Standard. Post-pandemic, people will probably still head go to the office at least a few days a week. “Canny private-equity groups” such as KKR are swooping on London’s property companies, which trade on steep discounts to net asset value. Yet their focus is limited to firms with office exposure. The outlook for retail space is much grimmer. 

London’s offices are suffering from “unprecedented uncertainty” because of the rise of homeworking, says a UBS Research note. But big companies may end up reducing their requirements for space less than expected. Steep discounts to net asset value and proven management teams mean that Derwent London (LSE: DLN) and Great Portland Estates (LSE: GPOR) could interest brave investors.

Recommended

When investors get over-excited, it’s time to worry – but we’re not there yet
Sponsored

When investors get over-excited, it’s time to worry – but we’re not there yet

When investors are pouring money into markets, it can be a warning sign of impending disaster, writes Max King. So how are fund flows looking right no…
26 Oct 2021
An investment trust that gives exposure to frontier markets
Investment trusts

An investment trust that gives exposure to frontier markets

An investment trust investing in small, illiquid emerging markets has disappointed, but deserves another chance, says Max King
26 Oct 2021
What does Rishi Sunak have in store for investors this Wednesday?
Budget

What does Rishi Sunak have in store for investors this Wednesday?

Rishi Sunak is unveiling his spending plans for the economy this week. John Stepek analyses areas which may be most hit by the budget.
25 Oct 2021
How rising interest rates could hurt big tech stocks
Tech stocks

How rising interest rates could hurt big tech stocks

Low interest rates have helped the biggest companies to entrench their positions. But what if rates rise?
25 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Properties for sale for around £1m
Houses for sale

Properties for sale for around £1m

From a stone-built farmhouse in the Snowdonia National Park, to a Victorian terraced house close to London’s Regent’s Canal, eight of the best propert…
15 Oct 2021
How to invest as we move to a hydrogen economy
Energy

How to invest as we move to a hydrogen economy

The government has started to roll out its plans for switching us over from fossil fuels to hydrogen and renewable energy. Should investors buy in? St…
8 Oct 2021
Emerging markets: the Brics never lived up to their promise – but is now the time to buy?
Emerging markets

Emerging markets: the Brics never lived up to their promise – but is now the time to buy?

Twenty years ago hopes were high for Brazil, Russia, India and China – the “Brics” emerging-market economies. But only China has beaten expectations. …
18 Oct 2021