A powerful Chinese delegation is heading to Birmingham next week amid plans to fund regeneration schemes in the city costing hundreds of millions.
The delegation has been organised by Midland businessman Raymond Liu, who said there was a “golden opportunity” for the city to take advantage of serious interest from wealthy people in the Far East.
The Post understands the group is a powerful consortium with backing from both the finance and real estate sectors.
Mr Liu said: “This is a golden time for Chinese investment in the UK – but if you don’t grab these opportunities you miss out.
“We have another three delegations lined up. Chinese investors will want to come over and put their money into UK property this year.
“I think Birmingham is a better option than London now from an investors’ point of view.”
He added: “They are very capable of doing big projects and they are very serious about Birmingham, the second city, and HS2.
“It won’t happen overnight. It will take time but these are very capable people who can fund major schemes and access even more funding.”
The Chinese investors are expected to kick off with a smaller residential scheme, of between £25 million and £40 million, while talks continue over funding a key regeneration project. While their identities are being kept under wraps, it is understood they were behind schemes that developed 6,000 homes in China last year.
Mr Liu, who was born in China but is now a British citizen, boasts a strong record in the Far East having established a UK industrial zone in Changshu near Jaguar Land Rover’s new Chinese factory and automotive supply giant Qoros’ plant
The 180-acre zone was created in consultation with the city’s mayor and opens the door for UK engineering firms to supply giant manufacturers.
He also established Halesowen-based Tellord Homes, which is behind schemes to build 80 houses across three schemes in Telford.
The 40-year-old has a strong book of contacts in the Far East, and plans to organise a further two delegations to the city later this year.
He was speaking just weeks after the Post reported a separate consortium headed by the president of GlobalChina Wealth Management Company had visited the city with a view to investing in major schemes.
The likes of Birmingham Smithfield, around the Wholesale Markets, Curzon Street, Snow Hill and Icknield Port Loop would all require hundreds of millions of pounds of investment and make a significant impact on the city.
Mr Liu has lived in the region for more than a decade but said only now had major Chinese investment become viable, as high net-worths flock to the UK.
He said: “The reason I haven’t done it before is the opportunity wasn’t there in real estate. Two or three years ago, high net-worths in China wouldn’t be interested because they could get a better return from properties in China.
“Since 2014, there has been a really good opportunity for the UK because Chinese property has gone down in the last year and property developers have lost money.
“The wealthiest man in China, Li Ka-shing, sold all of his real estate assets in China last year and started to invest in Europe and that set an example. Everyone says if he does it, it must be right.”
He added: “It is all about profit and at this moment there is more to be made here.
“When I speak to my friends in China, their attitude has changed about UK real estate.”
Mr Liu started his career as a journalist in China before moving to the UK to study a business degree at Loughborough University.
He worked at manufacturer Lister Petter from 2004 to 2009 before starting his own engineering business, Reve UK, in Tipton.
That business still trades successfully but his contacts in China’s financial scene have seen him move into property in recent years.
He said: “I thought I had years of experience and I understand the business culture here and in China and it was time I realised my own dream, which was always to run my own business.
“Since then I have developed that company into a car parts supplier which is running and growing very nicely. We supply two containers of parts for Jaguar Land Rover to China a month.”
He added: “I am a British citizen now. I have a British passport and I wanted to do something for the UK.”
Mr Liu has previously worked with councils in Shrewsbury and Telford, using Chinese backing but managing schemes himself.
He said the scale of the Birmingham proposition meant that high net-worth individuals from the Far East would be heading to the city.