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Number of wealthy Chinese looking to settle in UK increases

Country regarded as good long-term investment

The number of wealthy Chinese citizens planning on moving to Britain is on the rise despite Brexit uncertainty, according to a London-based private wealth partnership.

LJ Partnership said that the number of investor visa applications from the Chinese mainland last year shot up by 56 percent, from 78 the previous year to 122. It added that some of the richest Chinese now make up just under one third of all applicants.

According to the Financial Times newspaper, in 2010 Chinese nationals made up just 10 percent of the total number of people who received British investor visas.

To obtain a Tier 1 visa, applicants must invest 2 million pounds ($2.82 million) or more in United Kingdom government bonds, share capital, or loan capital in active and trading UK-registered companies. Those who invest 10 million pounds can apply to settle in the UK after two years and people who invest 5 million pounds can apply to settle after three years.

The LJ Partnership noted that investors from China “are continuing to seek long-term investment opportunities in the UK despite short-term Brexit-related uncertainties.”

According to the London-headquartered firm, Chinese entrepreneurs regard the UK as “one of the securest jurisdictions in which to hold assets”, and “a secure legal system with a proven record of protecting investors and a perceived price arbitrage due to the weaker pound” have attracted wealthy Chinese investors.

Law firm Baker McKenzie found that Chinese investment into Britain jumped from $9.2 billion in 2016 to $20.8 billion last year.

Sam Lawson Johnston, director at LJ Partnership, said: “Many of those Chinese investors see the slight softening of prices in the UK as an opportunity for the longer term. The UK market is one of the most liquid European commercial real estate markets, with pro-landlord leasing terms for investors who are concerned with long-term capital preservation.”

Investors from Hong Kong remain active in the commercial property market, looking at opportunities outside London as well as in the capital city.

Landmark buildings such as 20 Fenchurch Street, which is known as the Walkie Talkie, sold for 1.3 billion pounds to Hong Kong’s Lee Kum Kee and the Leadenhall Building, also known as the Cheesegrater, was snapped up by CC Land from the Chinese mainland for 1.15 billion pounds.

LJ Partnership noted that the private education system is also a draw for many wealthy Chinese who plan to relocate with the aim of sending their children to school in Britain.