Zhang Xin, the Chinese tycoon seven times richer than the Queen, set to buy America's most expensive office tower

 

One of China's richest women is set to buy America's most expensive office tower.

As Chinese investors in the US real estate market continue to increase in number, a group led by Zhang Xin, CEO of the Beijing-based property firm SOHO China, is reportedly nearing a deal for a 40 per cent stake in New York's General Motors building, which would value the skyscraper at an estimated $3.4bn (£2.3bn).

Ms Zhang, 47, is one of the wealthiest self-made women in China; her company is Beijing and Shanghai's biggest commercial property developer. In 2010, Forbes magazine named her in a list of the world's 10 self-made women billionaires. With a net worth of approximately $3.6bn, she is around seven times richer than the Queen.

Born in 1965, during China's Cultural Revolution, Ms Zhang was brought up in poverty in Beijing by a single mother. Aged 14, she moved to Hong Kong to work on the assembly line in a clothing factory. Some five years later, she had saved sufficient funds for a flight to the UK, where she studied at Cambridge University before taking up a job at investment bank Goldman Sachs in New York.

In 1995, having returned to China, she founded an office real estate company with her new husband, Pan Shiyi. A decade later, SOHO China was the largest such firm in the country. In 2012, its profits were to 3.34bn yuan (£360m), double those of the previous year.

Ms Zhang and her husband are part of a growing crowd of Chinese investors in the US real estate market, a craze that has been compared to the Japanese boom of the 1980s, which saw New York's celebrated Rockefeller Centre sold to Tokyo's Mitsubishi Estate Company in 1989.

The couple already owns an apartment close to Central Park, and in 2011 bought a 49 per cent stake in another Manhattan tower, Park Avenue Plaza, for a reported $600m. According to The Wall Street Journal, Ms Zhang is bidding for a stake in the GM Building personally, without the involvement of SOHO China.

The 705ft-tall (215m), white marble tower at the south-east corner of Central Park commands some of the highest office rents in Manhattan; its 1.8m sq ft are home to the flagship FAO Schwarz toy shop, and a major Apple Store. Built by the US car manufacturer GM in 1968, it was at one time owned by Donald Trump.

The skyscraper was last purchased by Boston Properties and a group of Middle Eastern investors in 2008, for $2.8bn, still the highest price ever paid for a single office building.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)