EW Investment to develop £2.2b London projects

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KUALA LUMPUR: Eco World Investment Co Ltd (EW Investment), a private vehicle controlled by Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin and Datuk Voon Tin Yow, will develop three large-scale residential projects in central London together with the Ireland-based Ballymore Group, with a total gross development value (GDV) of £2.2 billion (RM11.8 billion).

The projects are likely to be injected into Eco World International Bhd (EWI-SPAC), a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that Liew plans to list on Bursa Malaysia.

In a statement yesterday, EW Investment said it had signed an agreement with Ballymore Group on Sunday to acquire a 75% stake in Eco World Ballymore Holding Co Ltd (EcoWorld-Ballymore).

The remaining 25% stake will be taken up by Ballymore Group, a property investment and development firm with over 30 years of experience in property markets in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

EcoWorld-Ballymore was formed to acquire and develop three large-scale residential schemes in the central London area, namely Arrowhead Quay in Canary Wharf (with £591 million GDV); London City Island — Phase 2 on the Leamouth Peninsula located at the northeast of Canary Wharf (£614 million GDV); and Embassy Gardens — Phase 2 in Nine-Elms (£995 million GDV).

According to the statement, the joint-venture (JV) company will acquire all three sites from Ballymore Group for a total £428.7 million.

“Of the three sites, Embassy Gardens has secured planning permission while London City Island has outline planning consent.

“Meanwhile, a resolution to grant planning consent was passed on Nov 6, 2014 for Arrowhead Quay. Accordingly, all three projects are expected to be ready for launch in 2015,” said EW Investment.

EW Investment is a private company incorporated in Jersey, Channel Islands on Nov 18, 2014 with a 70:30 shareholding held by Liew and Voon.

Liew was formerly the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of S P Setia Bhd, and currently a non-executive director of Bursa Malaysia-listed Eco World Development Group Bhd.

Voon was the chief operating officer of S P Setia during Liew’s tenure as president and CEO. He took on the role of acting president and CEO of S P Setia from May 1, 2014 to Jan 1, 2015.

“In view of the proposed listing of [EWI-SPAC] as a SPAC on Bursa, EW Investment is prepared to offer EWI-SPAC a right of first refusal to acquire its 75% stake in EcoWorld-Ballymore,” said Liew in the statement.

“These three projects, which are situated in geographically diversified growth areas offering differentiated pricing points, present an unrivalled opportunity for EcoWorld to introduce its brand name to the Greater London market.

“With our combined and complementary strengths, we believe that the partnership with Ballymore Group can become a strong platform to grow our presence in the UK property market,” Liew said.

“Combining our development expertise and track record with EW Investment’s own experience and international marketing abilities will create valuable synergies for our joint venture and I look forward to working closely with them,” said Ballymore chairman and group CEO Sean Mulryan.

The JV will see approximately 2,500 units of private residential apartments developed. The apartments will be priced between £500,000 and £900,000 per unit. Single residences will begin from 398 sq ft for studio apartments to 890 sq ft for a one-bedroom unit. Two-bedroom units range from 770 sq ft to 1,000 sq ft, three-bedroom units from 1,000 sq ft to 1,400 sq ft and the penthouses measure up to 2,000 sq ft.

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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on January 13, 2015.