UK rolls out red carpet for wealthy Chinese shoppers, investors
Retailers, hotels and banks respond as dealmakers flood into London, reports Bloomberg.
In the 87-year history of London’s Jack Barclay Bentley dealership, it had never held a Chinese New Year celebration. Until this year. In February, the dealership invited more than 200 wealthy Chinese expatriates from fields such as finance and the real estate to a Year of Horse-themed event under the slogan “take the reins for a prosperous journey”. Chinese-speaking staff were on hand.
“A quintessentially English dealership could be quite intimidating” for Chinese buyers, said Chris Harris, marketing director for luxury automotive group HR Owen Plc, which owns Jack Barclay. “We wanted to de-mystify the experience.”
From luxury retailers to law firms to banks, Londoners are jockeying to take advantage of a wave of Chinese investment and tourism. With Russia, India and the Middle East struggling with weak commodity prices, businesses that cater to wealthy foreigners are betting Chinese money can make up the difference.
The property sector is seeing some of the most dramatic increase, with real estate investment in the British capital from China tripling from 2012 to 2013 to about $2.8 billion, a figure that will probably be matched this year, according to broker Knight Frank.
Chinese-financed projects include One Nine Elms, a 56-story apartment tower on the south bank of the Thames backed by developer Dalian Wanda Group Co Ltd.
Shanghai-based Greenland Holding Group Co this year said it would invest 1.2 billion pounds ($1.88 billion) redeveloping a brewery in the city and building a residential tower near Canary Wharf.
Chinese investors are also moving into corporate dealmaking in United Kingdom.
In July, private equity firm Hony Capital Ltd said it would buy the UK restaurant chain Pizza Express for about $1.4 billion— the largest-ever corporate takeover in the United Kingdom by a Chinese mainland company.