Korean Investor Snaps Up SF Hotel for $450M

South Korea-based Mirae Asset Global Investments has acquired the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel for $450 million.

Fairmont_Hotel_San_FranciscoSouth Korea-based Mirae Asset Global Investments has acquired the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel for $450 million, the second luxury hotel it bought from Oaktree Capital Management, L.P., and real estate investor Michael Rosenfeld’s Woodridge Capital Partners, L.L.C., in the last six months.

Kingdom Holding Co., an investment holding company based in Saudi Arabia, was also part of the group selling the historic Nob Hill hotel.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, a luxury brand with more than 70 hotels around the world, will continue to manage the 592-key hotel under a long-term agreement.

Oaktree and Woodridge acquired the hotel in May 2012 for $200 million and made major improvements through a comprehensive renovation plan. Members of the selling group also own two other Nob Hill hotels, the Mark Hopkins and Stanford Court.

The Fairmont San Francisco opened in 1907 and has since become famous for hosting every United States president since William Howard Taft was well as foreign dignitaries, heads of state and celebrities. The Beaux Arts-style building was designed by New York architectural firm McKim, Mead & White and Julia Morgan, who was also well known for designing Hearst Castle. It has over 55,000 square feet of conference and function space as well as three restaurants and lounges, including the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar.

One of the world’s largest investment managers in emerging market equities, Mirae Asset acquired the 538-key Fairmont Orchid, a luxury resort hotel on Hawaii’s Big Island, in May from Oaktree and a Woodridge affiliate for $200.3 million. It was one of the first major hotels in Hawaii acquired by a Korean firm. Since launching Korea’s first real estate fund in 2004, Mirae Asset has acquired more than $8 billion in commercial real estate assets, including a 166,000-square-foot office tower at 1750 K St., NW, in Washington, D.C., in June for $115 million. In 2011, the firm began adding hotels to its real estate portfolio, including the 317-room Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, 531-room Four Seasons Hotel Sydney and 282-room Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Pangyo.

The Korea Times reports that Mirae Asset began investing in overseas properties in 2006. The news site noted that more private Korean firms as well as the state-run National Pension Service have been aggressively seeking overseas assets for investments and expects the trend to continue.

Korean firms are among the Asian investors increasingly active in U.S. commercial real estate, with hotel properties among the high-profile assets they are buying. By the end of May, Asian investors had bought up to $2.3 billion in U.S. hotel properties, compared to $140 million during the same period in 2014, according to JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group. The number could hit $5 billion by the end of this year.

Hospitality experts say Asian investors are attracted to the U.S. hotel industry for various reasons including the improving U.S. economy and strong dollar, solid hotel fundamentals, good yields with fewer risks compared to other CRE assets and moves by Chinese regulators to ease restrictions on outside investments.

In early June, a subsidiary of Lotte Group, a South Korean conglomerate, agreed to buy the New York Palace Hotel in Midtown Manhattan for $805 million. A year ago, Anbang Insurance Group Co. of China acquired the Waldorf Astoria New York for $1.95 billion. China’s Sunshine Insurance Group Co. bought the Baccarat Hotel New York for $230 million in February.