World / Europe

Chinese developer signs secret deal with English council, FT says

By Chris Peterson ( Updated: 2015-11-18 19:33

A Northwest English council is going ahead with a development deal with a Chinese company even though the original UK firm behind a 175 million pound scheme has ended its joint venture with the Chinese conglomerate, Beijing-based Sam Wa, the Financial Times reported.

The Peel Group has ended its joint venture with Sam Wa by mutual consent and is now seeking potential investors from South Korea and India, the newspaper reported, citing the Manchester-based developer.

The original plan by the two companies was to build an international trade centre on the Wirral, on the banks of the River Mersey in northwest England, which was to have housed 1,000 Chinese companies attracted by the prospect of doing business in the UK in a tax-friendly zone, the UK said.

Peel owns most of the waterfront land on the Mersey, much of it former docklands, and is going ahead with a development in the area called Wirral Waters, which so far includes an education facility and an office block.

The Wirral Council has decided to continue the scheme, agreeing to sell a piece of land formerly owned by the Ministry of Defence to Sam Wa earlier this month, although it is refusing to release details, citing council rules and commercial confidentiality, the FT reported.

The newspaper said Wirral Council, at the same meeting on November 5, agreed to set up a 16 million pound investment fund to help kick-start the rest of the Wirral Waters development.

Sam Wa was founded and is chaired by Stella Shiu, and Wirral Council leader Phil Davies told the newspaper "Sam Wa, who at an earlier stage were going to be partnering with Peel, are now looking to invest all the money themselves."

The council said the sale of the land to Sam Wa would go ahead after due diligence checks on Sam Wa had been carried out.

To contact the reporter: chris@mail.chinadailyuk

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