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Asia-Pacific Business Anbang poised to take control of Vancouver’s Bentall Centre

Anbang is purchasing a 33-per-cent stake in Vancouver’s Bentall Centre from GWL Realty Advisors Inc., according to sources.

Handout / Bentall Centre

Anbang Insurance Group Co., one of China's most active buyers of overseas real estate, is poised to gain full ownership of Vancouver's largest office complex, according to people with knowledge of the transaction.

Anbang is purchasing a 33-per-cent stake in the Bentall Centre from GWL Realty Advisors Inc., said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. The Beijing-based insurer earlier bought the 66-per-cent share of the property owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge, a unit of Canada's second-largest pension fund. The transactions value the complex at more than $1-billion, the people said.

Representatives for GWL didn't immediately respond requests seeking comment. A spokesman for Ivanhoe Cambridge, Sebastien Theberge, said the company "will not comment on the confidential details of this transaction." Kenny He, a representative for Anbang in Vancouver, didn't respond to e-mail and phone requests for comment. No one answered calls to Anbang's main office in Vancouver.

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The purchase from GWL, a unit of insurer Great-West Lifeco Inc., is expected to close next week, the people said.

Anbang, one of China's top insurers, has been buying up real estate in Canada and the United States as it seeks returns to back policies held by Chinese citizens. Anbang purchased a Toronto office tower from Brookfield Office Properties Canada LP last year, and may be connected to Bluesky Hotels & Resorts Inc.'s $2.1-billion buyout of InnVest Real Estate Investment Trust, one of Canada's largest hotel owners, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

Bentall Centre, located in Vancouver's downtown core, spans 1.5 million square feet across four office towers, built between the 1960s and 1980s, and a retail mall. Tenants include Toronto-Dominion Bank, National Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal, according to the property's website. Ivanhoe Cambridge, the real estate arm of Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, manages the complex.

Three of the Bentall towers were assessed last July for a combined $891-million, according to a provincial land title search.

CBRE Canada led the transaction and Canderel, the Canadian development and investment firm, will manage the property after the purchase closes, according to the people with knowledge of the deal. Representatives of CBRE and Canderel didn't immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

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