A clutch of powerful mainland institutions ranging from the state wealth sovereign fund to private businesses are fast-tracking the process of scouting for lucrative British properties as a way to diversify investments and expand their overseas businesses.
At least one big transaction is in the pipeline and is expected to be finalised within months, according to Jeremy Helsby, chief executive of global property broker Savills, which is involved in the deal.
"Chinese investors are wise and sophisticated. They study the market and they often take UK partners," he said. "The investors are measured and sensible."
Helsby would not disclose details of the transaction but said it would be just one of quite a few major investments by powerful mainland companies and wealthy individuals.
There is a huge desire in Britain to attract Chinese investors, with Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne pledging during a visit to the mainland last week to widen mainland firms' access to the British market by relaxing ownership rules.
A strengthening yuan has also made overseas investments cheaper for Chinese entities.
Powerful mainland institutions including sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp; Gingko Tree, a subsidiary of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange; and Ping An Insurance have been active in looking to buy office buildings and commercial properties in Europe.
Earlier this year, Ping An bought the Lloyd's Building in London for £260 million (HK$3.24 billion), completing the first direct overseas property acquisition by a mainland insurer.
Helsby said the increasing personal wealth of the mainland's super-rich was also a key driving force behind the interest in buying foreign properties.
"As the wealth increases among a select group of Chinese businessmen, they need to diversify and expand the market outside China," Helsby said. "The UK is always the market that Chinese investors are comfortable with."
He also expressed his confidence in a £1 billion project by Chinese developer Advanced Business Park (ABP) that will see east London's Royal Albert Dock transformed into an Asian business port.
ABP led a delegation of more than 30 Chinese companies to inspect the project in London several weeks ago.
Helsby said government backing in Britain and support from "serious Chinese businesses" would ensure the exciting project would deliver.
The mainland's outbound investment hit a record US$87.8 billion last year, up 17.6 per cent from a year earlier.
"There's a huge amount of capital built up in China," said David Green-Morgan, Jones Lang LaSalle's research director for global capital markets. "It's just the start of Chinese coming into the international markets."
Jones Lang LaSalle predicted property investments by Chinese investors could top US$5 billion this year.