Singapore-listed City Developments Limited (CDL) has taken its latest bet on the UK real estate market by acquiring a site in London’s Battersea district for £58 million ($72.4 million).
CDL purchased the freehold Ransomes Wharf site on the south bank of the Thames river from UK property management firm Curatus Trust with the aim of building a £222 million ($277 million) luxury residential project, according to a statement late last week by the Singaporean firm.
The housing project adjacent to London’s Albert Bridge appears to fit into CDL’s continuing diversification away from its home market in Singapore, and is the latest major Asian acquisition in London following the Brexit vote last year.
Singaporean Heavyweight Aims for Thames-Side Projects
The site near London’s Battersea Park comes complete with planning permission to build 118 apartments and 21,980 square feet (2,042 square metres) of retail space. The new homes are to be spread across six blocks of up to 10 storeys, with the developer expecting to start clearing the site this spring.
CDL sees this latest site purchase, which it made through its wholly-owned subsidiary Trentworth Properties, as a follow up on earlier Thames-side residential projects. In 2015 the Singaporean company acquired the 22-acre freehold Stag Brewery site alongside the famous London waterway as well as making a deal that same year for a 220-unit residential development on the former Pinewood Studios site in Teddington.
“The UK is one of CDL’s key overseas markets for strategic diversification,” CDL Executive Chairman Kwek Leng Beng said in a statement. “We believe the Ransomes Wharf development will be timely bearing in mind the recent major pre-let to Apple Corporation at Battersea Power Station. Ransomes Wharf should be appealing to Apple and other relocating organisations, such as the new US Embassy, as Ransomes is just across Battersea Park and will offer an attractive and established alternative to living at Nine Elms.”
With this latest acquisition, CDL has now invested a total of £510.2 million in 10 freehold properties in the UK, including 28 Pavillion Road and 32 Hans Road in Knightsbridge and 31/35 Chesham Street in Belgravia. Last May the Singaporean firm acquired its first office redevelopment project in the UK, picking up Development House in London’s up and coming Shoreditch area for £37.4 million, just before the country’s historic Brexit vote in June.
Asian Firms Continue to Bet on the UK
Despite uncertainty about Great Britain’s economy following the Brexit decision, some Asian investors see the current climate as a chance to pick up bargains.
In September last year top mainland developer China Vanke agreed to buy Ryder Court in London’s posh West End from Henderson Global Investors for £115 million, for its first office project in the UK.
Then in November, Hong Kong’s Asian Growth Properties bought a London building that houses much of the Bank of England’s operations for around £154 million, and that same month fellow Hong Kong firm Chuang’s China Group bought 10 Fenchurch Street near the city’s Tower Bridge from Standard Life for £80 million.
For CDL, the UK deals fit into broader diversification strategy that has seen the Singaporean commercial and residential developer branch out into hospitality properties in New Zealand and stakes in mainland co-working startups.