‘We see Birmingham as Boomingham’ – consortium
A GROUP of wealthy Far Eastern investors is planning a major spending spree in Birmingham – and could change the face of the city.
A consortium headed by Denise Li, president at GlobalChina Wealth Management Company, plans to filter capital from the super-rich of China and Taiwan into property, infrastructure and energy schemes in the UK.
And she says that Birmingham, rather than London, will be the group’s focus.
While Ms Li did not reveal potential investments, the group’s spending power would stretch to huge schemes like the Birmingham Smithfield development at the Wholesale Markets, regeneration around Curzon Street Station and the Icknield Port Loop residential quarter.
A group, which included one of Taiwan’s richest men, met Birmingham City Council’s deputy leader Ian Ward last week to discuss investment opportunities.
Ms Li – a former Miss Taiwan beauty queen – said that she wanted to use Birmingham as an example to show how Far Eastern investment can help cities in the west to achieve growth ambitions.
“We consider Birmingham to be the best city for this,” she said. “It is developing. Everyone knows about London – it is a great city but it is saturated and hasn’t got much room to grow.
“We want to be building something new. We believe there is a very bright and interesting project here and it could change the relationship that Birmingham has with the Chinese. We want to offer job opportunities and help improve the lifestyle of British people and provide a demonstration of how to invest in a city for the 21st century.
“There is money ready and waiting for us to do this.”
Ms Li has established an equity investment company to invest in the UK, aided by Birmingham property developer Anthony McCourt and James Ng, a consultant at Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co in the city.
It will filter money from high net-worth individuals in China and Taiwan, as well as banks, third-party funds, to schemes in the UK, largely focused in the Greater Birmingham region.
Ms Li said there was a large appetite among rich Chinese people to invest in projects abroad, with real estate top of their list. She is also keen to foster stronger ties with Wenzhou, one of China’s richest cities sat in a conurbation of nine million people.
She said the consortium planned large-scale investment in the medium term. The group expects to spend between £10 million and £50 million in 2015, and treble that the year after.
“We don’t want to be limited by numbers,” she added. “The amount will depend on the needs of the city. We already have some projects in mind but we are looking to build gradually.
“In the short-term, we would like to build things up and this year maybe £10 million, but long-term it could be several billions of British pounds – it depends on the requirement.”
There are more than 350 billionaires in China and a further 33 in Taiwan, and rising fast, as well as more than three million millionaires. Ms Li said she was keen to use Birmingham to demonstrate how much could be achieved using this rising wealth.
“We are not just coming here with a brain, we are coming here with a heart,” she said. “We are a global ambassador and Birmingham is the right place for us. We see Birmingham as Boomingham, and we have potential sites we would like to build.”