Three Chinese banks have leased offices in Auckland's central business district, putting further pressure on the stretched sector, says a leasing agent.
Martin Hudson, a director of Metro Commercial at 151 Queen St, said the banks were some of the world's largest businesses.
Industrial and Commercial Bank of China had rented offices in PwC Tower on the waterfront's Quay St and a retail branch in lower Queen St.
Metro Commercial had leased space to China Construction Bank for its New Zealand headquarters in Kiwi Income Property Trust's Vero Centre on Shortland St. That bank will double its requirements for office space in the next year, Hudson said.
The third bank, Bank of China, has taken the top floor of 205 Queen St, the twin towers sold this year by Kiwi Income Property Trust.
Hudson said Metro leased that space to Bank of China.
The banks had all leased A-grade and premium offices in flagship buildings - space is in short supply due to Auckland CBD's record low vacancy levels, he said.
"Further expansion into the sector is expected shortly. The result? Vacancy levels in Auckland's premium office sector could potentially drop to previously unheard-of levels of less than 1 per cent with an obvious upward effect on rents in the short to medium term," he said.
Many Chinese businesses have significant cash reserves and their expansion into New Zealand requires financial support with banking networks and often sizeable credit lines to finance day-to-day operations, he said. The main Chinese banks have therefore seen the potential to enter this sector in New Zealand.