Liew Kee Sin, the Malaysian entrepreneur who has shot ahead of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in the race to redevelop commercial property Battersea Power Station, believes making a football stadium part of the plans for the historic commercial property site is “out of the question”.
The Chief Executive of SP Setia also said the £400m which has secured preferred bidder status for the Malaysian group hoping to buy the iconic south London commercial property structure represents ‘good value’.
The commercial property developer is in a joint venture with Sime Darby, Malaysia’s biggest commercial property corporation, to turn the 38-acre site into new homes, commercial property shops and offices.
The group, which made the biggest offer in a sealed bidding process, now has one month to conduct due diligence and reach a decision regarding the final terms of the deal, though Mr Liew said the latter will be the focus since they have been scrutinising the practicalities of the development for six months.
Mr Liew told The Daily Telegraph: “The pricing is quite competitive and it’s a good time to invest in the UK. “It’s iconic – everyone in London knows the site so we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Even Malaysians know about it. We’re very comfortable with developments of this size and the complexity of the project.”
SP Setia was one of around 15 bidders, including Chelsea Football Club, for the commercial property site, which has been the subject of constant failed redevelopment attempts in the three years since it closed.
Chelsea had embarked the area for a new 60,000-capacity commercial property stadium. The club said it was “disappointed” to lose out on preferred bidder status although a Chelsea stadium becoming part of the Malaysians’ redevelopment plans has not been ruled out.
However, Mr Liew said: “I don’t want to say anything right now, but from what I know, from what I read…a stadium is out of the question.
“But we need to speak to the respective councils about what is and isn’t possible. For now we’re committed to following the [agreed] plan which is residential, commercial, retail and social [housing], [and an] extension of the Northern Line.”
The successful bidder will be responsible for developing the planned Northern Line extension of the London Underground.
Mr Liew, who was speaking from Monte Carlo for the closing of the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year competition, said he hopes to meet with London Major Boris Johnson and officials from Transport for London this week to gauge their requirements for the commercial property site.
Mr Liew added: “A massive upgrade of infrastructure is needed and we’re committed to creating jobs in the local area. The building’s famous four chimney stacks will be preserved.
He further added: “We’re here to spend quite a bit of money to maintain the iconic area. We’re conducting a detailed study to work out how to get it done without offending any part of the community.”
The conglomerate will fund the planned redevelopment with a combination of debt and “internal funds”, Mr Liew said, although he maintained that the Malaysian Government had no direct financial role in the bid even though both Sime Darby and SP Setia are supported by Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Permodalan Nasional Berhad.
Mr Liew added: “We want to tap the market for Asians who want to buy properties in London…we believe we can boost the economy of London by taking the lead and in future maybe our customers will follow us.
“If you look at the potential of London as an international city, it’s tremendous. Yes there are bad times, [but] which country, which family doesn’t go through rough times? It’s a matter of the economic cycle. I’m sure London will come back.”
The commercial property site came on the market after a £5.5bn offer by Irish developer Treasury Holdings collapsed in December.
Chief Executive of Kenya’s Equity Bank, Dr James Mwangi was named winner of the accountancy firm’s yearly global entrepreneurship competition at a ceremony last weekend for turning a dwindling micro-finance operation into the leading bank by customer base in East and Central Africa.