As real estate brokers and developers looked on Feb. 3, Japanese National Railways Settlement Corp. announced that its 5.3-hectare plot of land around the former Shiodome Cargo Terminal near JR Shimbashi Station in Tokyo’s Minato Ward would be sold to three corporate groups for 372.3 billion yen.

The purchase of the land was decided through open bidding by 11 different groups of companies. The spacious tracts at Shiodome are the most valuable asset the semigovernmental body holds. JNR Settlement manages debts and assets left over by the now-defunct Japanese National Railways, and it hopes to reduce the debts, which have mushroomed to about 28 trillion yen, by selling such assets.

“Recently, land prices in the Tokyo area have been dropping 20 percent annually. Considering such a trend, the price was relatively higher than we expected, and we feel relieved,” a Transport Ministry official said. During the asset-inflated bubble economy in the late 1980s, the value of the Shiodome plots was once estimated to be four times more.

The area, which is divided into three parts, will be sold to three different groups of firms. Dentsu Inc., Japan’s major advertising agency, won a bid to purchase a 1.72-hectare plot to build its headquarters.

Mitsui Real Estate Development Co., Matsushita Electric Works, Ltd. and Singapore-based Alderney Investments Pte Ltd., which formed a consortium, jointly won a bid to purchase an area of 1.97 hectares. The rest of the plot, about 1.57 hectares, will be sold to Nippon Television Network Corp. Matsushita Electric Works and NTV are also reportedly considering headquarters moves to the area.

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