Property investment

Richard Li poised to take over £6 billion north London project, in his first foray into UK property

The project’s value would top the HK$40.2 billion price that Li’s father fetched for selling The Center office tower in Hong Kong.

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 November, 2017, 8:23pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 5:48pm

Pacific Century Premium Developments (PCPD), controlled by Richard Li Tzar-kai, the younger son of Hong Kong’s wealthiest tycoon, is in talks to take over as the master developer of the £6 billion (US$7.9 billion) Meridian Water mixed development project in north London after the previous developer of the project withdrew, sources said.

The project, the flagship urban renewal and regeneration programme by the Enfield city council in the northern borough of the British capital, covers 210 acres (85 hectares) between Edmonton, Tottenham and Walthamstow. It’s expected to feature 10,000 homes, with infrastructure and retail space, according to development plans.

The development value would surpass the record HK$40.2 billion (US$5.15 billion) price that Li’s father Li Ka-shing fetched this week for The Center office tower in Hong Kong, in what’s billed as the world’s most expensive sale of a single building.

Pacific Century had already been shortlisted as a developer for Meridian Water last year, but lost the final bid to Barratt Developments Plc, one of the largest residential property developers in the United Kingdom. Barratt, based in Coalville in north west Leicestershire, was the preferred bidder, while the Hong Kong developer - in partnership with Willmott Dixon, a residential contractor in Birmingham - was the reserve bidder.

Work on the project was supposed to begin in early 2018, with a 2019 deadline to deliver the first phase of the new homes, alongside a new Meridian Water railway station, according to the Enfield council’s plans.

A sudden withdrawal by Barratt has now propelled Pacific Century to the front to win the project, which would pave the way for the younger Li’s first foray into the UK’s real estate market. The senior Li is already one of the biggest investors in the UK, with an estimated US$50 billion worth of business interests there, covering telecommunications, energy, real estate and retailing.

A Hong Kong spokesman for Pacific Century declined to confirm if the company is willing to take over the Meridian Water project. The developer of Hong Kong’s Cyberport hi-tech hub, Pacific Century owns office buildings in Hong Kong and Jakarta, and is building a hotel in Japan. The company had been disposing of its investments in mainland China, selling its Beijing office complex for US$928 million in 2014.

“The Enfield Cabinet agreed last night that Enfield Council would approach the reserve bidder Pacific Century Premium Development to open discussions on Meridian Water,” property information site CoStar reported Tuesday, citing an Enfield Council spokesperson.

Shares of PCCW, the younger Li’s flagship telecommunications and internet services unit and parent of Pacific Century, fell 0.5 per cent in Thursday trading to a five-day low of HK$4.28 on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The stock has fallen almost 7 per cent in a year.