December 15, 2017 / 4:46 AM / a month ago

Malaysia's Eco World acquires 70 percent in UK sites

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian property developer Eco World International Bhd (ECOD.KL) said on Friday it had acquired a 70 percent stake in a dozen British sites, agreeing to pay 64.9 million pounds for half of the assets first.

Eco World said it would buy the stake in a unit of construction group Willmott Dixon which owns the 12 sites in Greater London and southeastern England, and would become joint development manager with its British partner.

The acquisition will be done in two stages, and the purchase consideration for the remaining six sites was not finalised yet.

Eco World planned to fund the acquisition of the first six sites through its initial public offering proceeds, and the rest through a combination of borrowings and proceeds from its IPO.

Eco World launched its IPO on the Malaysian bourse in April, raising 2.58 billion ringgit (£470 million). It was backed by state-linked funds Employees Provident Fund and Permodalan Nasional Bhd, and has Singapore-listed GuocoLand Ltd (GUOC.SI) as a strategic investor.

President and Chief Executive Teow Leong Seng said the joint venture would enable the group to establish a footprint in Britain’s build-to-rent subsector and enter the private rental sector in which demand had been increasing.

    “Regardless of what people say about Brexit, our sales are still improving, momentum is still very much intact,” he said.

    The Malaysia-based company, 27 percent-owned by Eco World Development Group Bhd (ECOW.KL), focuses on overseas projects and currently has projects in Britain and Australia.

    Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Stephen Coates

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