New World Development

Tycoon Henry Cheng becomes biggest Chinese investor in post-Brexit UK with £1 billion London project

Cheng’s private company, Knight Dragon, will develop project comprising hotels, homes, offices and cinemas as part of Greenwich Peninsula regeneration

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 February, 2017, 7:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 February, 2017, 11:42pm

Henry Cheng Kar-shun, chairman of Hong Kong’s New World Development, has committed to invest £1 billion to develop a mixed property project in London, becoming the biggest single Chinese investor in Britain after the country’s vote to leave the European Union.

The project will comprise 800 apartment units, office space and 500 hotel rooms totalling 1.4 million square feet, sitting atop a complex that will house a bus station, cinemas, bars and shops, according to information provided by Cheng’s company Knight Dragon.

“It shows our long-term confidence,” Sammy Lee, vice-chairman of Knight Dragon, said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

Knight Dragon is a private company chaired and owned by Cheng, who was rumoured to have suffered a minor stroke on the eve of the Lunar New Year last week.

Cheng, 70, had not been feeling well recently and was on leave to rest, New World said in a statement on Wednesday, without elaborating.

The company’s shares were little changed on Wednesday when trading resumed after the Lunar New Year holiday pause, after the company issued its statement regarding Cheng’s health. The stock closed 1.3 per cent lower on Thursday at HK$8.93 in its biggest one-day fall in eight trading days.

The Cheng family ranks as the third-richest in Hong Kong, according to the Forbes magazine, with a net worth estimated at about HK$139 billion.

The London development is not associated directly with New World.

Lee said the project, known as Peninsula Place, was a core part of Cheng’s ambitious redevelopment, Greenwich Peninsula, in Greenwich.

In 2015, the Greenwich Council approved Cheng’s master plan to build 15,720 new homes in London as part of the estimated £8.4 billion transformation. It will be London’s largest single regeneration project.

Cheng is aiming to make Greenwich Peninsula a unique cultural destination for Londoners and visitors to the city.

Most of the preliminary agreements for the development of Peninsula Place were signed before Christmas 2016, indicating the company’s long-term commitment to London, said Richard Margree, chief executive of Knight Dragon.

The Peninsula Place project is due to be completed in 2021 or 2022, with construction scheduled to start next year.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said the investment showed London remained open to investment, trade and the very best talent from around the globe.

Hong Kong developers have been showing a growing interest in London.

At the end of January, CC Land Holdings, chaired by Cheung Chung-kiu, dubbed the “Li Ka-shing of Chongqing”, paid £290 million for a prime office building in London’s West End. And Emperor International Holdings bought a retail, office and residential project, the Ampersand Building, in London for £260 million.