There was a new record for a house purchase in the UK last week in what The Times described as “the latest sign that London’s languid housing market has received a boost from Boris Johnson’s decisive election victory”. It will come as no great surprise that the landmark property transaction involved a Chinese billionaire.
Cheung Chung-kiu paid £210 million ($274.5 million) for a 45-room mansion in Knightsbridge. Nor is it his first big bet on the London market – his company CC Land splurged £1.15 billion on the office tower known locally as ‘The Cheesegrater’ in 2017. His latest purchase comes after a period of prolonged uncertainty over Brexit, with Prime Minister Johnson’s large parliamentary majority having voted for Britain to exit the EU at the end of this month.
The mansion in question is 2-8a Rutland Gate, which overlooks Hyde Park. It was previously owned by Rafic Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon, and Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, once crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The new owner is known back in China as ‘Chongqing’s Li Ka-shing’, a nickname that likens him to Hong Kong’s most successful tycoon.
The Times reports that Cheung (for more background on how he made his fortune see WiC357) has not decided whether he will use the mansion as his London residence or redevelop it into luxury flats. A redevelopment of the property, the British newspaper estimated, could see it valued at as much as £700 million. It added that the purchase “is being seen as a huge vote of confidence in the market” with prices of prime London property having fallen 20% over the past five years, according to Savills. The largest London home purchase last year was considerably smaller than Cheung’s: £65 million for a penthouse in Belgravia.
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