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January 7, 2014 11:03 am
Greenland Holdings Group, the Chinese state-owned real estate developer, has bought a historic brewery site in southwest London from developer Minerva, in its first UK deal.
Minerva won planning permission last summer for 661 new homes on the Ram Brewery site in Wandsworth, including a 36-storey residential tower. The £600m, 90,000 sq ft scheme will also include new shops, restaurants and bars, and a microbrewery.
The existing buildings, formerly the home of brewery and pub chain Young & Co, will be restored to create a brewing museum. The Ram site is reputed to be Britain’s oldest continually operating brewing site, with activity dating back to the 16th century.
Asian property companies have been rushing to invest in London in recent months. Hong Kong billionaire Henry Cheng Kar-Shun bought Quintain out of its Greenwich Peninsula site for £186m in November, while Chinese investor Xu Weiping has ambitious plans to redevelop the Royal Albert Docks site in east London. Chinese developer Zhongrong Group is aiming to build a replica of south London’s Crystal Palace, the Victorian attraction.
Jones Lang LaSalle and Savills acted for Minerva. Guy Grainger, UK chief executive of JLL, said the deal was “a landmark transaction for the London residential market”.
“The deal further highlights London as the number one destination for international capital,” he said.
Greenland has about 600m sq ft of commercial and residential space under construction in 80 Chinese cities, and projects in South Korea, Thailand, Australia and the US. It acquired the Atlantic Yards site in Brooklyn, New York, in October in the largest Chinese-backed US commercial real estate deal to date.
Little-known outside its home country, Greenland Holdings was founded in 1992 and has risen to become one of the most international and ambitious of China’s property companies
Minerva was acquired by a consortium led by investment group Delancey and private equity firm Area Property in 2011
Paul Goswell, Delancey’s managing director, said: “Since acquiring Minerva two years ago, we have worked hard to comprehensively redesign the original scheme, which culminated in planning consent being secured in December. Our strategy had been to implement the scheme ourselves, possibly with a partner, but that changed when Greenland made their unsolicited proposal.”
Zhang Yuliang, chairman and president of Greenland, said: “London is the global financial centre as well as the most open and diversified city that enjoys the most mature economic development, making it the first option for our investment in Europe.”
British trade promotion body UKTI lobbied the Chinese to attract the investment along with London mayor Boris Johnson. Lord Livingston, minister for trade and investment, said: “I am delighted to welcome the first UK acquisition from Greenland and that UKTI has helped make this happen, in partnership with the mayor of London’s office and other organisations.”
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