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Great Britain – a Chinese fund buys real estate through companies in tax havens

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A Chinese sovereign wealth fund owns more than 250 properties in the UK, including warehouses and food distribution centres, The Guardian reported. The newspaper reported that real estate is purchased by dozens of companies registered in tax havens.

China Investment Corporation (CIC) has spent at least £580m on UK property, according to The Guardian’s analysis of a foreign-owned property register, although the real amount is certainly higher, as some of the registers are incomplete.

A Chinese fund buys up properties in the UK

The journal indicates that although the very fact of CIC investing in real estate in Great Britain was known, the data from the registers shed new light on the scale and nature of these purchases. They show that CIC, acting through several dozen companies registered, among others in in Luxembourg or the Isle of Man, he focused on facilities such as food and other goods distribution centers, warehouses, retail parks and similar, which are crucial for supply chains. Many of these acquired properties are located in the Southeast and Central England.

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Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, head of the Parliament’s China and a fierce critic of Beijing’s government, said it was worrying that so many of the investments were hidden by companies registered in jurisdictions that allow their real owners to be kept secret. He compared it to a recent takeover attempt by the British technology company Newport Wafer Fab, in which a Dutch company was supposed to invest but turned out to be owned by a Chinese entity. Ultimately, the British government blocked the deal for security reasons.

– Sometimes you have to go back a few links to discover who actually owns the company. If they can buy so much – and it all seems like important parts of the supply chain – then it begs the question of why they do it. This makes it necessary for us to audit the total amount of Chinese funding in key areas of the UK, including universities, the tech sector and supply chains. We are far too open to the interests of Chinese companies,” he commented.

CIC has an estimated $1.2 trillion in assets under management, making it the third largest sovereign wealth fund in the world.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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