FRANKFURT-The sale of Frankfurt’sOpera Tower, considered by many as one of the premier, new officeassets in the European market, is likely to be finalized in thenext few weeks, and US investment bank JP Morgan is leading thebidding, according to industry sources.

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The 673,000-square-foot office tower, opened in 2008, is ownedby developer Tishman Speyer and a fund owned and managed by Swissbanking group UBS, which is the anchor tenant. Tishman has wantedto sell since before the economic crisis but one buyer,Munich-based fund manager KanAm, pulled out as financialuncertainty deepened. It had been reported offering around $585million. The tower, with 42 floors, commands top-prime rentsreaching almost to $65 per square meter prior to thecrisis.

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The amount of the current bid is not known but one source, whoasked not to be named, said it was doubly surprising not only forthe identity of bidders but also its aggressiveness. “This is avery encouraging sign because if you had asked the market aboutpotential buyers six months ago neither the number one nor numbertwo would have been on the list,” one knowledgeable source said.“There was a number one and a number two, and number one is inexclusivity - but number two was not the Koreans either… JP Morgancame out of the blue… Everyone, including Tishman, was verysurprised about the aggressive bid coming from them.” It is notknown if the bank is bidding for its own account or on behalf of athird party.

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One strongly speculated buyer had been the Korean NationalPension Service, which in the last 18 months has invested in theLondon HSBC headquarters, Berlin’s Sony Center and, this summer, ina majority stake in the O’Parinor shopping mall in the Parissuburbs.

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AllanSaunderson is a managing editor of Property InvestorEurope and a contributor to GlobeSt.com.

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