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China, US dominate London’s property market

China and the U.S. dominated London's commercial property market in 2014, according to new data, as the British capital's lucrative property price increases and rental incomes continue to appeal to foreign buyers.

Of the £21 billion ($31.7 billion) spent in the London property market last year, £14.6 billion – or 70 percent -- was attributed to foreign buyers, research from prime real estate agent Savills, published Thursday, showed.

The City of London
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images

Breaking down the figures, Savills found that U.S. investors were the biggest spenders in 2014, splashing £3.4 billion. Meanwhile, Chinese investors – who spent £2.2 billion – accounted for more inward investment in London's commercial property market than all European buyers put together. Qatari investors spent £1.2 billion on London property.

As a result, Savills said Chinese and U.S. money was set to dominate London's commercial property market in 2015.

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Notable U.S. investors in 2014 included Blackstone, Kennedy Wilson and Hines, which secured some of the larger deals, including Alban Gate (for around £300 million), 111 Buckingham Palace Road (for a reported £205 million) and 25 Cabot Square, in London's financial hub Canary Wharf, for over £220 million.

Meanwhile, Chinese developers and insurance companies were attracted to London as they sought to diversify their investments outside Asia, Savills noted.

It named government-backed insurer China Life as one of the biggest entrants in 2014, with its deal to buy 10 Upper Bank Street – an iconic skyscraper in Canary Wharf - for £795 million in 2014.

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"The top Chinese developers are being driven by challenges in the domestic market and global branding needs. Insurance companies are beginning to diversify their huge capital outside of China after the restriction on overseas investment was lifted by the regulator," Eric Zhao, Savills Chinese capital markets specialist said in the real estate agent's report.

"We have already seen the top Chinese firms make a statement in London and we are expecting more to follow."Savills also noted the rise in private investors entering the London markets, such as the sale of the iconic "Gherkin" in the City of London to Brazilian billionaires, the Safra family. The building, officially called 30 St Mary Axe, sold for a reported £726 million, and comes alongside other significant deals with private investors from China, Spain and Hong Kong.

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt

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