Chi­nese builder in $3.4b agree­ment for UK homes

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By CECILY LIU in Lon­don cecily.liu@mail. chi­nadai­

Alibaba strength­ens ties with car­rier

China Na­tional Build­ing Ma­te­ri­als Group Corp struck a 2.75-bil­lion-pound ($3.41 bil­lion) joint ven­ture deal on Mon­day to open six highly cost-ef­fi­cient pre-fab­ri­cated house-build­ing fac­to­ries in the United King­dom, ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing 25,000 homes a year.

The new homes built by the joint ven­ture will re­duce con­struc­tion costs to a tar­get of 400 pounds per square me­ter, sig­nif­i­cantly less than the 1,000 pounds per sq m av­er­age in the UK mar­ket. It came at an op­por­tune time when the UK gov­ern­ment is mak­ing pol­icy plans to in­crease af­ford­able homes.

CNBM part­ners with the UK’s hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tion Your Hous­ing Group and re­new­able en­ergy spe­cial­ist Welink to con­struct the fac­to­ries for mod­u­lar units. CNBM will pro­vide 2.5 bil­lion pounds in fund­ing, and 250 mil­lion pounds from YHG.

Shou Peng, chair­man of CNBM, said: “The key to un­lock­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties to ad­dress the hous­ing needs of the UK is through the de­vel­op­ment and de­liv­ery of an in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion strat­egy at sig­nif­i­cant scale.”

The CNBM deal was wel­comed by the UK’s In­ter­na­tional Trade Min­is­ter Greg Hands, who hailed it as an en­dorse­ment to the UK’s at­trac­tive­ness to for­eign in­vestors.

He said: “This deal has the po­ten­tial to ben­e­fit lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try, cre­at­ing jobs, boost­ing lo­cal economies and cre­at­ing homes.”

Stephen Haigh, chief ex­ec­u­tive of YHG and UK chief ex­ec­u­tive of the new joint ven­ture, said the new pro­ject will help the UK gov­ern­ment achieve its hous­ing as­pi­ra­tions.

The deal comes at a time when mod­u­lar con­struc­tion is the new buz­zword in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try. This tech­nique pro­duces stan­dard room units in­side fac­to­ries which can read­ily be as­sem­bled on con­struc­tion sites, to save con­struc­tion time and costs.

China has led the field in mod­u­lar con­struc­tion tech- niques by lever­ag­ing on its do­mes­tic hous­ing mar­ket scale, and some Chi­nese firms have al­ready ex­panded into the UK’s mod­u­lar con­struc­tion mar­ket, one ex­am­ple be­ing the Shen­zhen­based CIMC Mod­u­lar Build­ing Sys­tems, hav­ing done more than 10 UK projects for clients in­clud­ing In­terCon­ti­nen­tal Ho­tels Group and Hil­ton.

The CNBM con­sor­tium part­ners are look­ing for fac­tory sites across Eng­land. The first fac­tory, in Liver­pool, is ex­pected to re­ceive plan­ning per­mis­sion in Jan­uary. A re­search and tech­nol­ogy cen­ter is be­ing built in Glouces­ter by YHG to pi­o­neer new de­vel­op­ment.

The pro­ject will de­liver 2,000 homes next year, ramp­ing up pro­duc­tion af­ter that to 25,000 homes an­nu­ally by 2022. The en­tire pro­ject is ex­pected to cre­ate 1,000 new jobs.

The mod­u­lar units to be made are based on de­signs by the Span­ish firm Barcelona Hous­ing Sys­tems, no­table for their en­ergy ef­fi­ciency and af­ford­abil­ity.

The UK gov­ern­ment said it plans to cre­ate a 2.3-bil­lion­pound Hous­ing In­fra­struc­ture Fund, to de­liver in­fra­struc­ture for up to 100,000 new homes in high­de­mand ar­eas.

Haigh added his team will work with lo­cal author­i­ties, of­fer­ing the con­sor­tium’s de­vel­op­ment model as so­lu­tion to their house build­ing and de­vel­op­ment needs.

tries ap­pli­ca­tions of China Mo­bile Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Corp at the tele­com car­rier’s booth at the World In­ter­net of Things Expo in Wuxi, Jiangsu prov­ince. ma­tion in­fra­struc­ture, mar­ket­ing and emerg­ing sec­tors.

Ac­cord­ing to Hu, how­ever, it is pos­si­ble for Alibaba to open its mem­ber­ship sys­tem, which has more than 600 mil­lion users, to China Mo­bile, in ex­change for ac­cess to the lat­ter’s 850 mil­lion sub­scribers.

“Our mem­ber­ship sys­tem can be linked with China Mo­bile’s sub­scriber sys­tem, en­abling the free flow of data which can help of­fer bet­ter on­line credit ser­vices,” he said.

Also, the two sides can make joint ef­forts to grow busi­ness in ru­ral ar­eas, giv­ing China Mo­bile’s sprawl­ing pres­ence in the coun­try­side and Alibaba’s abil­ity to pro­mote ru­ral e-com­merce. This deal has the po­ten­tial to ben­e­fit lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties ...” Shou Peng, chair­man of China Na­tional Build­ing Ma­te­ri­als Group Corp num­ber of jobs the pro­ject is ex­pected to cre­ate in the United King­dom

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