LONDON: The London-based Arab Bankers Association held a summer networking event for Arab investors last week to promote property opportunities in one of the UK capital’s most coveted residences.
The event was sponsored by Battersea Power Station to sell their newly unveiled Sky Villas, familiarize attendees with the power station project and include a factory tour with a helmet.
“ABA has a close relationship with Battersea Power Station,” ABA CEO George Kanaan told Arab News. “The project was huge, it was structured in an interesting way and it was quite a challenge.”
It said many of its member banks were involved in financing and execution, and also approached developers. ABA members include private bankers and advisors to Middle Eastern investors who are actively deploying capital in UK property.
“We had them present at some of our property seminars in London as an example of how a project of this size could be structured,” he said. “We invited them to speak at another seminar because we appreciated their vision of the market and their approach to marketing. »
Since BPS was decommissioned in 1975, several unrealized plans have been made to use the coal-fired power station on the River Thames until it nearly fell into disrepair.
In 2012 it was purchased by a Malaysian consortium to develop the site to include 254 apartments, restaurants, shops, offices and cinemas.
The £9 billion ($10.8 billion) development, which is expected to open in the autumn, has attracted strong interest from high net worth individuals in the Middle East and property investors looking for ‘assets trophies in London,’ BPS said.
Middle Eastern buyers are also looking to take advantage of the weaker pound as well as strong fundamentals in the prime central London property market, with prices in Battersea up 2.8% in the past 12 months. according to real estate consultants Knight Frank; a seven-year high, he added.
“The whole area of Battersea has been regenerated and that, along with the move of the American Embassy to the area, has spawned a lot of other projects and the place is starting to look quite beautiful. It’s a real estate project that has makes a neighborhood in my opinion, that’s how you describe it,” Kanaan said.
He said the event included representation from bankers and investment managers from across the region, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, as well as major local banks such as Lloyds. “So we had a good cross-section of the city and a good cross-section of the region.”
Matthew Sansom, residential sales manager at BPS, said he was impressed with the number of attendees and the good turnout, adding that everyone was keen to learn more about the powerhouse.
“For some of the attendees it’s their first time to Battersea Power Station, they’re kind of overwhelmed and quite impressed with what we’ve created, not just the apartments but also the wider estate,” he said.
“More generally, even the investors in the project or the buyers, whether they’re buying for their own use or for investment, the project kind of attracts different people for a lot of reasons,” Sansom said.
He said their ultimate aim was to leave a legacy by turning Battersea into a new village and destination in London and to raise awareness of the location of the station, noting that there are still plenty of sites to be developed.
“As a developer, we have a responsibility to leave a legacy and we’ve been very consciously focused on creating places and creating a destination here that people want to come to, and it’s not just for people who live here, it is for the wider communities of London and beyond,” he said.
Most of the 18 luxurious Sky Villas, which have three en-suite bedrooms, study, ground floor and roof gardens and 360 degree city views, were sold with only a handful remaining as they received a lot of commercial traction, Sansom said, which is “a great position to be in, and a testament to the products we deliver.”