Marco Polo Developments, the Singapore arm of Wheelock and Co, has bought a 33.3 per cent stake in British real estate consultant Hamptons and is to install former Jardines taipan and Trafalgar House chief executive Nigel Rich as its chairman. Mr Rich, who found himself out of a job when Hongkong Land Holdings sold its 25.3 per cent stake in troubled Trafalgar last year, will become chairman of Hamptons on October 1. Marco Polo will pay GBP7.95 million (about HK$99.15 million) for its stake in Hamptons, considered one of the leaders in the luxury British residential real estate market. Less than a fortnight ago, Hong Kong's First Pacific Davies bought a 20 per cent stake in one of Hamptons' biggest rivals, Savills. Marco Polo managing director David Lawrence said: 'This is a good strategic investment. It is profitable and will contribute to our bottom line.' Mr Rich has picked up a few directorships since leaving Trafalgar but has not taken on full-time commitment. He is an old friend of Mr Lawrence, a former managing director of property consultant Richard Ellis in Singapore, and of Hamptons director Christopher Palmer, one-time Richard Ellis managing director in Hong Kong. Hamptons has 48 branches in Britain, and offices in Hong Kong and Singapore. 'Our intention is to expand quite rapidly,' Mr Lawrence said. Mr Rich will be expected to initiate this expansion, with new offices in Asia a possibility. He will also be expected to prepare Hamptons for a potential listing in a few years. Hamptons will be expected to watch out for lucrative properly investment or development opportunities for Marco Polo in Europe. Mr Lawrence said: 'It will give us a network and intelligence on the ground to go into new markets.' He said yields in Southeast Asia were low and there were few good investment opportunities. Marco Polo is 74.6 per cent owned by New Asia Realty and Trust Co, the Hong Kong holding company for Wheelock's Hong Kong and regional property investments.