China’s Wanda spends £1bn on UK luxury deals

Kasmira Jefford
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CHINESE conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group has made a £1bn swoop on the UK luxury market after agreeing to buy Sunseeker International, the British yacht maker and to build a five star hotel in London.

The property and leisure giant said yesterday it is buying a 91.8 per cent stake in privately-held Sunseeker for £320m to tap into demand for luxury yachts among China’s burgeoning middle class.

It has also has bought the site of Market Towers in London’s Nine Elms from Irish developer Green Property, under plans to create £700m of offices, homes and a 160-bedroom hotel.

The scheme, called One Nine Elms, will see the existing 1970s towers replaced with two new skyscrapers reaching 45 and 60 storeys, which – if completed today – would make it the tallest residential scheme in London.

Wanda said the hotel would be the first such scheme opened by a Chinese firm overseas and its first property deal outside of China.

Alastair Perks, director of central London development at CBRE who advised on the sale said he expects to see a flurry of Chinese investment into London over the coming months.

“It’s the first time we have seen a private Chinese developer coming into this kind of large scale, mixed-use development. We are working with other groups from Mainland China who are expressing a desire to get into similar opportunities.”

Last month Beijing’s Advanced Business Park signed a £1bn deal to develop a vast business park in London’s Royal Docks that will serve as a launchpad for Chinese firms.

Wanda, China’s largest property and leisure group, owns 38 five-star hotels and 57 department stores in China with annual revenues of close to £15bn.

Last year it bought US cinema chain AMC Entertainment for $2.6bn.