From left: Eco World International executive vice chairman, Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin and Willmott Dixon group chairman Colin Enticknap witness the partnership signing agreement while Willmott Dixon group chief executive Rick Willmott and Eco World International chief executive officer of international business (UK) Cheong Heng Leong inked their signatures.

KUALA LUMPUR: Eco World International Bhd (EWI) plans to buy 70 per cent stake in United Kingdom-based Willmott Dixon's residential development business for an undisclosed amount from Be Living Ltd.

In its filing to Bursa Malaysia today, EWI said the acquisition will see the two companies jointly developing 12 sites in Greater London and the South East of England.

EWI president and chief executive officer Datuk Teow Leong Seng highlighted the proposed acquisition requires shareholders’ approval and hopes to formalise the deal by the end of this year.

"The acquisition has the potential to increase our presence in the UK by fourfold as we will have access to a sizeable landbank of 6,700 residential units with a total gross development value (GDV) of at least £2.5 billion," he said.

EWI seeks to enter an extensive part of the popular London property market including projects in Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Brent, Bromley, Ealing, Hounslow, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and Westminster all of which are a short commute from Central London and International Airports.

It also includes one project outside of London in Woking, a busy commercial town, with a rapidly expanding artistic and cultural life within 25 minutes of Central London and close to London Heathrow.

Most of the projects fall within the price bracket that would entitle potential buyers to benefit from government homeownership initiatives such as the Help to Buy scheme, where the government will provide an equity loan for new build residential properties of up to 40 per cent of the price within Greater London and 20 per cent outside London. The equity loan will be interest-free for five years.

EWI also plans to both develop mainstream residential units for Open Market Sale and enter the Build to Rent market, which has become increasingly popular in London as demand grows for purpose built private rental accommodation.

“Apart from the purchase of a 70 per cent stake in the project sites, we will also be acquiring a 70 per cent interest in Willmott Dixon’s development management arm with full multi-disciplinary team of highly experienced personnel,” Teow said.

He then highlighted this deal will operate outside of EWI’s joint venture with Ballymore Group, which continues to seek attractive opportunities in the higher-end Prime Central London locations.

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