Hong Kong billionaires continue to take advantage of the Brexit discount on London property, as the chairman of the developer CC Land has agreed to buy the most expensive home ever in the UK capital.
The family office of Cheung Chung Kiu, who leads the Hong Kong-listed home builder, is reported to be paying £210 million ($274 million) for a 45-room mansion in Knightsbridge, with the transaction, which was first reported by Bloomberg, having been confirmed to Mingtiandi in a statement.
The purchase by the chairman of the Chongqing-based developer comes just weeks after CC Land agreed to invest in a £182 million redevelopment joint venture for a project just across Kensington Gardens from Cheung’s new mansion.
CC Land, which has also been active in acquisitions in Hong Kong in recent years first made its name in London three years ago, when the company agreed to buy the Leadenhall Building, better known as the Cheesegrater, for £1.15 billion (then $1.42 billion).
Mansion Potentially Worth £700M as Condos
Cheung is buying 2-8a Rutland Gate, a 62,000 square foot (5,760 square metre) single family home, from the estate of Saudi Arabia’s late Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, who died in 2012.
The 55-year-old tycoon has yet to decide whether to keep the property for personal use or redevelop it as high-end apartments, according to an account in the Wall Street Journal. If rebuilt as condos, the property overlooking Kensington Gardens would have a gross development value of £500 million to £700 million, as estimated in London’s Estates Gazette.
At the £210 million price stated, the transaction would surpass by one-third the previous record high price for a UK home of £140 million, set just under a decade ago for a country estate in Oxfordshire. Since that transaction in 2010, the British pound has lost nearly 20 percent against the US dollar.
Crystal Chandeliers and Bulletproof Windows
In its current state, the mansion, which had served as the home of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri before being gifted to the Saudi prince after the politician’s assassination, includes a swimming pool, health spa and gym, as well as multiple elevators and underground parking.
The home had previously been put up for sale at an asking price of £300 million fully furnished, before its contents, complete with glass chandeliers and marble bathrooms, were sold at auction in 2015, according to the Estates Gazette account.
Now equipped with bulletproof windows, in addition to its luxury fittings, the building dates from the 1830s, when it was built as a set of four terrance homes, before being remodelled as a single family palace in the 1980s.
The sale of the property was brokered by London’s Beauchamps Estates, according to the Bloomberg account.
Hong Kong Billionaire Still Loves London
The home sale underlines that faith that Cheung has in the London property market, alongside a number of other Hong Kong billionaires.
In December, CC Land teamed up with London-based property investment firm Meyer Bergman to redevelop the current Whiteleys department store in Queensway in a project estimated to be worth £1.2 billion. The two partners expect to convert the commercial property 30 minutes walk across Kensington Gardens from Cheung’s new mansion into a 1.1 million square foot combination of condos, hotels and retail space.
That deal marked CC Land’s return to London after its 2017 purchase of the Cheesegrater, although CC Land had attempted later that same year to form a consortium with other Hong Kong investors in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to buy an office project at 40 Leadenhall nicknamed Gotham City.
In a report published last month London-based property consultancy Knight Frank noted that after a dip in UK purchases by Hong Kong investors in 2019, with the recent election of Boris Johnson’s Conservative government appearing to end a stalemate over Brexit, investors from the Asian financial hub could be expected to return to London this year.
In a statement at the time, Paul Hart, Executive Director and Head of Commercial for Knight Frank Greater China said, “London’s appeal, in terms of investment return, will definitely draw out Hong Kong investors in 2020.”