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By Junko Fujita
May 22 (Reuters) - Property investor Secured Capital Investment Management Co has put an office tower in central Tokyo's Marunouchi district up for sale for more than $1.8 billion, a bet that investors are confident in a continued recovery in Tokyo real estate, according to four people with knowledge of the process.
Secured Capital, part of Asian private equity firm PAG, wants to sell the 32-storey Pacific Century Place Marunouchi, near the Tokyo railway station, which it bought for about 144 billion yen ($1.42 billion) in 2009. It is seeking more than 180 billion yen ($1.77 billion), the people said. They asked not to be named because the sale preparations remain confidential.
The transaction would be the largest Tokyo office sale since the global financial crisis of 2008 and will test the confidence of investors in the success of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic policies aimed at ending deflation.
The building, completed in 2001, was bought by K.K. daVinci Holdings in 2006 for 200 billion yen at a peak for the property market. Shinsei Bank Ltd extended loans in the highly-leveraged transaction.
Japan's real estate market crashed in the global financial crisis and the value of properties nationwide slumped. K.K. daVinci was unable to repay the debt on time, giving up control of the property to Shinsei Bank.
Secured Capital declined to comment.
The property has been put up for sale at a time when vacancy rates for Tokyo's office properties are on the decline and rents have started rising.
Pacific Century is located in Tokyo's Chiyoda ward, the area where rents are the highest and vacancy rates remain the lowest in Tokyo.
The vacancy rate in Chiyoda was 5.2 percent in April, down from 6.1 percent six months earlier, according to Miki Shoji Co, a property services company.
Most other properties in the area are owned by Mitsubishi Estate Co, Japan's leading developer.
At a price of 180 billion yen, the expected annual return for new owners from the property would be about 3 percent, people with knowledge of the situation said.
The deal would follow two large transactions this year. Singapore state investment firm GIC Pte Ltd agreed to buy a Tokyo office tower for some 134 billion yen in April.
In March Sekisui House Ltd, a Japanese home builder, agreed to buy an office building in Tokyo, which was also owned by daVinci, for 74 billion yen.
$1 = 101.4950 Japanese yen Editing by Edmund Klamann