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Anbang said close to buying Toronto Tower for about C$530m

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China's Anbang Insurance Group Co is set to purchase an office and retail tower in downtown Toronto that counts the Government of Ontario as a major tenant, according to people familiar with the deal.

[TORONTO] China's Anbang Insurance Group Co is set to purchase an office and retail tower in downtown Toronto that counts the Government of Ontario as a major tenant, according to people familiar with the deal.

Anbang is close to an agreement to buy the 30-story building at 777 Bay St from closely held development and investment firm Canderel and pension-fund manager OPTrust for at least C$530 million (S$558 million), said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations aren't public. Montreal-based Canderel and Toronto-based OPTrust each hold a 50 per cent stake in the property.

Representatives for Anbang and CBRE Group Inc, the brokerage representing the sellers, declined to comment on the talks. OPTrust "does not comment on speculation related to any investment transaction," spokeswoman Claire Prashaw said in an e-mail. Canderel representatives didn't respond to a request for comment.

Anbang has been on a real estate buying spree in North America, part of the surge of Chinese capital seeking haven outside the country. Beijing-based Anbang recently completed most of its US$6.5 billion acquisition of Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc, with the exception of Southern California's Hotel del Coronado after opposition from national-security officials. The company purchased New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel for US$1.95 billion in 2015, and withdrew from a bidding war for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc earlier this year.

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In Canada, Anbang last year purchased a 17-story office building in Toronto's financial core for about C$110 million, and earlier this year it took full ownership of Vancouver's Bentall Centre in a transaction that valued the property at more than C$1 billion. Anbang also is linked to Bluesky Hotels & Resorts Inc's C$2.1 billion deal for InnVest Real Estate Investment Trust.

The building at 777 Bay St, with about 84,960 square meters spread across an office tower and two floors of retail, is in a part of downtown Toronto where at least a dozen condominium projects have been built or are planned. The building, constructed in 1983, is 96 per cent leased, with the Government of Ontario occupying 68 per cent of the property, according to marketing materials. The building contains several provincial agencies, including the ministries of international trade, housing, tourism and municipal affairs.

Canderel and OPTrust originally were seeking to sell only half their stakes, said the people familiar with the talks and marketing materials, but Anbang instead bid for the entire building. Canderel will continue managing the property, they said.

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