Chinese tycoons top list of Britain's richest property investors

Wang Jianlin and Cheng family top rich list as Duke of Westminster falls down asset rankings

Tycoons from China have come from nowhere to top the list of the UK's wealthiest property investors for the first time, ending the Duke of Westminster's 10-year reign at the No1 spot.

China's richest man, Wang Jianlin of the Dalian Wanda group, topped the 2013 with an estimated fortune of £10.4 billion (HK$131 billion), closely followed in the No2 spot by New World Development chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun and his family at £10.2 billion.

Neither Wang nor Cheng appeared in the top 250 last year.

The shake-up comes as the London property market sees more Asian money flow in, according to the 155-year-old magazine that compiled the list.

"London is such a transparent market, with iconic buildings, and with the new land opened up, we have overseas buyers flooding into the market," said Noella Pio Kivlehan markets editor of .

With iconic buildings ... we have overseas buyers flooding into the market

Over the last year the UK has seen a 60 per cent increase in the total wealth of its richest 250 investors to £162.5 billion - the largest ever rise on the magazine's Rich List because of new money from Asia.

"Philip [Beresford], who compiled the report, says he doesn't see the duke regaining his spot any time soon ... the new money is substantial and will stay," said Pio Kivlehan.

The duke, whose wealth is estimated at £8 billion, fell to fourth place, just behind the Mumbai-born Reuben Brothers who have an estimated net worth of £8.3 billion.

Chinese Estates Holdings owner Joseph Lau Luen-hung, who is currently facing corruption charges in Macau, comes in seventh at £4.6 billion.

Wang spent £700 million on One Nine Elms, part of the South Bank regeneration project, and plans to build Europe's tallest residential tower (204 metres) and a luxury hotel on the site.

The Chengs took control of the Greenwich Peninsula regeneration project for around £686 million and own stakes in a luxury estate, The Knightsbridge, while Lau owns the Goldman Sachs building in Fleet Street.

While Wang, Cheng and Lau are significant investors, the British aristocracy still own most of the property in the UK. But the Chinese trio's combined fortunes make up 38 per cent of the total fortunes of the list's top 10.

Overseas buyers purchased new-build property in London worth some £2.2 billion last year, up from £1.8 billion in 2011, according to property consultancy Knight Frank. Hong Kong and mainland Chinese buyers make up 16 per cent and 5 per cent respectively. Singaporeans invest the most at 23 per cent.

The Rich List, first published in 2002, includes people who have invested £100 million or more in the UK and have made or invested all or a significant part of their fortunes in property, trading or related areas.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Chinese tycoons now UK's richest property investors