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64 | ADAM WU


WORDS | Geoff Hadwick Get network expertise

Adam Wu, chief operating offi cer of The China Business Network, helps the international residential property industry work closely with investors from China. There is a huge amount of money out there looking for the best place to get a good return, he says, and now is the time to get involved. Things are only going to get bigger and better. But work hard to understand the Chinese mentality, he says. Top people talk to OPP.


hina’s overseas property explosion has only just begun, and its potential for more or less limitless growth is going to transform the world’s residential real estate landscape, says China Business Network (CBN) boss Adam Wu. Leading business cities around the

globe are going to go on seeing huge numbers of Chinese state, private and institutional investors trying to fi nd the right location for their huge US$12 trillion-plus mountain of savings. The taps are defi nitely going to go on fl owing. “Oh yes,” says Wu. “We are only at the beginning of what I know is going to be a long-term investment drive out of China. We are a nation of savers. We have a real national savings culture. Everyone knows that there is this massive pot of money out there in mainland China that needs to fi nd a home. It needs somewhere to go, somewhere where it will get a good rate of return.”

Speaking to OPP from his offi ces in London’s Canary Wharf fi nancial centre, Wu cannot see any reason why “property in hotspots like London,

Vancouver, Singapore and San Francisco” should not stay at the top of the Chinese investor’s shopping list. “The only problem would be if the Chinese government decided to restrict the way in which people can invest in property abroad, like they have at home,” he says. “But that is unlikely to happen because the government knows that it needs to invest its central reserves and make a good return, and it knows that the people themselves also want somewhere safe to put their own savings.” “We are a

country that needs to go out into the world and fi nd

“Chinese demand for property investments overseas is too large to stay focused on a few markets”

good places to invest. We cannot keep all that money at home.” And it is a serious amount of

money. “We have the cash,” Wu tells OPP. “Unlike most of the developed world, China has benefi ted from the global slowdown. The government needs to fi nd places to invest its US$3.4 trillion central reserves, and private individuals somewhere to get a good return on their US $9.6 trillion

savings. All we see here at CBN is more and more demand for investment opportunities in property overseas.” “The market is very large indeed, and getting bigger all the time.” Wu was fi rst sent overseas at the age of 25 to study. He has a very international outlook, a calm and very affable professional manner and his organisation, CBN, is equally reassuring. It is a professional and independent group that “works to support offi cial Chinese government delegations, as well as investment and business groups travelling

overseas to explore new business opportunities.”

It has paying subscription members, often in the tourism business, but relies mainly on doing straightforward commercial deals and getting paid on results to survive.

His mission, he says, is taking Chinese investors and business people out into the world. And, in residential property terms, he keeps the operation

tightly focused on what they want to buy … and where and why. “London is, and will remain, very popular because it is a property market with real liquidity,” Wu tells OPP. “Chinese investors want to see real capital growth, good profi t returns and a clear exit strategy.”

And, he adds, “the Chinese like London because there are always people here who are ready to buy when you want to sell.”

Other European capitals like Paris and Berlin are OK, but “too many people like to rent there” says Wu. “And lots of our investors go to Canada and the U.S.A., although I am not sure why. I saw some numbers the other day suggesting that about 80% of Chinese investment cash goes into these two North American markets, but that seems far too high.” “If we are not careful Vancouver will have a property bubble again and things will burst, just like they did when the Hong Kong Chinese were investing there in huge numbers in 1997. The market just got out of control.” “Chinese demand for property investments overseas is just too large

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