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Hongkong Land Holdings is the largest landlord in the heart Asia’s financial hub. It signed a lease for the first-ever time with a crypto asset company as the century-old firm moves to embrace this new sector.

The Hong Kong-based HashKey Group will occupy a floor at Three Exchange Square, which is owned by Hongkong Land. This was announced in a statement released Wednesday (Sept 15).

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This lease is an evolution of the company’s portfolio in Central district. It brings together traditional financial institutions and blockchain-based virtual asset firms, as foreign banks are less interested in space due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The recent SFC decision to regulate digital assets exchanges in Hong Kong gives confidence that this new asset type has a regulatory framework and therefore a future inside the finance industry,” stated Mr Neil Anderson, director and chief of office, commercial property at Hongkong Land. He was referring to the city’s financial regulator, the Securities and Futures Commission.

This upgrade will take place for HashKey which is located in Cyberport’s start-up park. The space at Three Exchange Square was previously occupied by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. According to HashKey’s website, HashKey also operates in Singapore, Tokyo, and Shanghai.

Michel Lee, executive president of HashKey, stated that Three Exchange Square is one the most prominent office buildings in Hong Kong. He added that he was happy to move to the heart of the business community.

Central, the most expensive area in the world, has been dominated for many years by financial institutions from mainland China and overseas. As hybrid workplace arrangements and cost-saving measures have taken hold in the wake of the pandemics, foreign banks are seeing a decline in demand.

Over the past year, lenders, such as Standard Chartered and BNP paribas, have reduced their office space within the finance district. According to Jones Lang LaSalle data, the Central vacancy rate rose to 9.6% at July’s end from 5.7 percent a year earlier.

As of June, 42 percent of Hongkong Land’s office tenants were from the banking and asset management sectors.

Hongkong Land has been slow to accept crypto companies into its portfolio. CK Asset Holdings has signed BitMEX trading platform in Central’s Cheung Kong Center to a reported world record rent of 2018.

The real estate company anticipates more virtual asset companies growing in the finance area.

Anderson stated that “Until recently, very few of these companies had the scale to move in a prime central area. But that is changing now, and we are seeing an increased number of inquiries from companies within the fintech space.”

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