A member of the clan behind Hong Kong’s New World Development has bought another piece of prime UK real estate, as tycoon William Wai-hoi Doo reportedly purchased an 11-storey building in the City of London for more than £130 million ($175.3 million).
Doo, the brother-in-law of New World chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun picked up the former House of Fraser department store at 68 King William Street from a joint venture between London-based real estate group Black Mountain Partners and funds managed by NYSE-listed Ares Management, with a report in the Estates Gazette having identified the husband of Amy Cheng Sau Ha as the buyer.
The 77-year-old non-executive vice chairman of New World is making his UK entry in style, picking up the property at the head of London Bridge as reportedly his first directly-owned asset in the city, after the Cheng family has built extensive holdings in the UK capital including an £8.4 billion ($13 billion) luxury housing project on the Greenwich Peninsula.
Doo’s purchase, of the commercial project, which Black Mountain and Ares recently finished renovating, came as easing of travel restrictions drove £3.85 billion in prime office transactions across London in the third quarter, representing a 23 percent rise from the preceding three months, according to Knight Frank.
Offices in the City
Formerly hosting the House of Fraser department store in the City of London financial district, Doo’s acquisition has recently had the second floor fit out for immediate occupancy, with tenants expected to begin moving into the lower floor retail space during early 2022, according to Black Mountain executive Matt Morley.
Black Mountain and Ares had purchased the 97,538 square foot building on King William Street for £75 million in 2019, according to the Estates Gazette, and sold the asset to Doo this month at a more than 70 percent markup over the purchase price.
After two years of renovation, the building now offers 70,600 square feet of office space, according to a news release from Black Mountain Partners. The property will also provide another 30,000 square feet for “lifestyle amenities”, including a restaurant by Corbin & King of The Wolseley in Piccadilly on the ground floor, a rooftop bar by Maven Leisure, and a gym.
With the new office and recreational area bringing the building to a total of 100,600 square feet, Doo, who is also chairman of Hong Kong conglomerate Fung Seng Enterprises, is paying the equivalent of £1,292.24 per square foot for the commercial asset. Property consultancy Savills advised the seller in the transaction.
Chengs Expand UK Footprint
Doo’s King William Street buy adds another property to the Cheng family’s London portfolio, which, in addition to the Greenwich Peninsula project led by Henry Cheng-controlled developer Knight Dragon has developed a luxury residential block in Knightsbridge near Hyde Park, and, and redeveloped the Chancery Court Hotel in Holborn into a five-star asset managed by New World’s Rosewood Hotel division.
Just last year, Knight Dragon announced a joint venture with UK real estate investor MGT and Dallas-based Lincoln Property Company to develop 500 rental apartments in the eastern stretch of London’s Parkside neighbourhood as part of the Greenwich Peninsula project.
In the year leading up to that partnership, Knight Dragon also completed the development of a school campus on Greenwich Peninsula, and a riverside events venue overlooking Canary Wharf, according to a news release from its partner.
Hong Kong Loves London
Doo’s recent acquisition is part of a rebound of Hong Kong-led London deals, coming about two months after the Kuok family behind Hong Kong developer Kerry Properties purchased an office building in London’s St James district for £145.5 million.
In February, HKEX-listed Wing Tai Properties teamed up with Champion REIT, Macau casino operator Francis Lui and the brother of Hong Kong’s former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, Tung Chee-chen, to acquire an 11-storey building at 66 Shoe Lane for £258 million.
Late last year billionaire Thomas Lau’s Lifestyle International Holdings acquired BP’s London headquarters at 1 St James’s Square for a consideration of £250.1 million, with Doo serving as a non-executive director on the board of that department store operator.
Just a 2.8-mile drive away from Doo’s new property is 11-12 St James Square, a commercial building in London’s West End purchased for £174.9 million in 2017 by Chinese Estates, a Hong Kong-listed investment firm controlled by Thomas Lau’s brother Joseph Lau.