LONDON: The London-based Arab Bankers Association hosted a summer networking event for Arab investors last week to promote real estate opportunities in one of the British capital’s most desirable residences.
The event was sponsored by Battersea Power Station to sell their newly unveiled Sky Villas, introduced attendees to the power station project and included a helmet tour of the facility.
“ABA has a close relationship with Battersea Power Station,” George Kanaan, CEO of ABA, told Arab News. “The project was huge, interestingly structured and quite a challenge.”
He said many of its member banks were involved in funding and implementation, and also got close to the developers. ABA’s members include private bankers and advisors to Middle Eastern investors who are actively investing in UK property.
“We’ve had them at some of our London property seminars as an example of how a project of this size might be structured,” he said. “We invited her to speak at another seminar because we liked her insights into the market and her approach to marketing.”
Since BPS’s decommissioning in 1975, several unfulfilled plans were made to use the coal-fired power station on the Thames until it almost fell into disrepair.
In 2012 it was bought by a Malaysian consortium to develop the site with 254 apartments, restaurants, shops, offices and cinemas.
The £9bn ($10.8bn) development, set to open in the autumn, has attracted strong interest from high net worth individuals and Middle Eastern property investors looking for trophy assets in London, according to BPS.
Middle East buyers are also looking to take advantage of weak sterling and strong fundamentals in the prime property market in central London, with Battersea prices up 2.8% over the past 12 months, according to property adviser Knight Frank; a seven-year high, he added.
“The whole area of Battersea has been regenerated and that coupled with the move of the American Embassy to the area has spawned many other projects and the place is starting to look quite wonderful. It’s a real estate project that I think actually created a district like you describe,” Kanaan said.
He said the event was attended by bankers and investment professionals 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, director of residential sales 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 power plant.
“For some of the participants it’s their first time ever coming to Battersea Power Station, they’re kind of overwhelmed and quite impressed with what we’ve created, not just the apartments but the whole property. ” he said.
“Generally speaking, even the investors in the project or the buyers, whether buying for their own use or as an investment, the project has great appeal to different people for many reasons,” Sansom said.
He said their ultimate goal is to leave a legacy by transforming Battersea into a new village and destination in London and raising awareness of the station’s location, noting that much of the site still needs to be developed.
“As developers, we have a responsibility to leave a legacy and we have had a very conscious focus on creating places and creating a destination here that people want to come to, and not just for the people who live here , but for the general community in London and beyond,” he said.
Most of the 18 luxury sky villas, which feature three ensuite bedrooms, study, ground floor and roof gardens and 360 degree city views, have been sold with only a handful remaining as they receive much sales success have, Sansom said, which “is a great position to be in and a testament to the products we are delivering.”