Asian buyers snap up London luxury apartments as China flags

LONDON Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:46am GMT

A Routemaster bus passes new development One Hyde Park, in London January 19, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

A Routemaster bus passes new development One Hyde Park, in London January 19, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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LONDON (Reuters) - London's luxury One Hyde Park development has sold its latest five apartments to Asian buyers, in a sign of the region's growing appetite for the relative stability of London property as China's economy slows.

The sales mean buyers from Asian countries like China and Malaysia have bought more than 30 percent of flats sold at One Hyde Park, where apartments cost from 7 million pounds up to 136 million each, a higher proportion than any other region.

"One of the reasons why Asian buyers are investing so heavily in the London property market is because China's economic growth has slowed down," said Nick Candy, development manager and designer of the scheme close to the Harrods department store.

"The Chinese are specifically looking to diversify away from keeping all of their investments in China, and super prime central London real estate is perceived to be and actually is a very safe investment," he said.

Asian buyers stepped up investment in the UK capital as the global economy wobbled, fuelled with cash from their region's commodities and manufacturing industries and attracted by the weakness of the British pound and London's safe haven qualities.

The rush to invest abroad has accelerated amid political and economic uncertainty in China, which is on course for its slowest annual expansion for 13 years after economic growth slipped for seven consecutive quarters.

The Knightsbridge office of property agent Savills (SVS.L), recently sold a house to a Hong Kong buyer at 23 percent above the guide price after the property received 12 bids, a spokeswoman said.

The Asian buyers of the latest five flats, which include two and three bedroom apartments, paid about 6,000 pounds per square foot, a One Hyde Park spokeswoman said. The scheme is owned by Project Grande, a joint venture between Guernsey-based group CPC Group and the Prime Minister of Qatar.

Ukraine's richest man, mining magnate Rinat Akhmetov, paid 136 million pounds for the penthouse at One Hyde Park, a record price for a UK flat. Seven apartments remain unsold at the development, where other buyers have come from Kazakhstan, Greece and Canada.

A record number of offices in London's upmarket neighbourhoods are being turned into luxury flats this year as property developers look to cash in on international demand, property consultancy DTZ said.

A spokeswoman for Westminister Council, which decides whether developers can change offices to homes in the Knightsbridge and Mayfair districts said the local authority was reviewing its planning policy to protect the area's office stock.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; editing by Jason Webb)

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