Foreigners are investing in Brexit Britain

Brian West

Brian West

Perhaps for the first since Tony Blair came to power it can be said, with justification, that we have an optimistic prime minister.

For an optimist the road can often be bumpy but crucially it is always leading somewhere.

Whatever his faults, Boris Johnson is, by nature, an optimist and with this optimism and positivity comes a feel-good factor that encourages spending and investment and boosts the economy. 

Little surprise then that within days of the Conservatives impressive election victory last month Hong Kong based K&K Property Holdings paid £130m for Orion House, an office building in Covent Garden.

K&K’s chief executive, Kino Law Kin-yat stated: “The office building will provide attractive rental income” and then confirmed that his company will “actively explore opportunities for different types of commercial projects.”

For Mr Law, a former UBS investment banker, it seems that Orion House is just a first foray into the UK market. 

Moving even faster than Mr Law and his team, a fellow Hongkonger, a successful businessman in his thirties, snapped up a £65m Belgravia mansion within hours of the polls closing.

The Belgravia Gate deal, thought to be the highest price paid for a penthouse in London throughout the whole of 2019, was brokered by high end agents, Beauchamp Estates. 

Having been the biggest overseas buyers of UK property between 2015-2018 Hongkongers' enthusiasm, after a brief lull early in 2019, surged back strongly in the final months of the year.

Against a backdrop of turmoil and uncertainty back home eclipsing anything in the UK, the momentum from the territory, which was building before the election, has been positively turbo-charged since. 

Of course, it is not just Hongkongers who welcomed the clarity a thumping Tory victory delivered.

Overseas buyers from across the globe are now seeing a window of opportunity to lock into the relative weakness of sterling before Conservative manifesto proposals for a further 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge on non-UK residents is introduced. 

While Brits have obsessed about Brexit for the last few years it is probably fair to say that for most overseas investors the allure of London and the UK never really faded, as evidenced by the exchange rate induced surge of investment after the referendum result in 2016. 

While ardent Remainers seemed to lose a sense of objectivity about the UK’s place in the world, well-informed people in Dubai, Moscow, Hong Kong and New York to name but a few, never did.

They continued to see us as the fifth largest economy in the world, a global trading powerhouse with an infrastructure, regulation and legal system that are the envy of the world.

Geographically well placed, resilient, business friendly and dynamic – why would they not want to invest here?