Credit: Reuters/Shadi Bushra By Shadi Bushra LONDON | Thu Oct 3, 2013 1:48pm EDT LONDON (Reuters) – A Chinese billionaire said on Thursday he planned to spend 500 million pounds ($810 million) rebuilding London’s Crystal Palace, a huge glass and steel building that captivated the world before it burned down almost eight decades ago. Ni Zhaoxing, chairman of the ZhongRong Group real estate investment firm, hopes to recreate the 19th century palace that was the world’s largest glass structure before it was destroyed in a fire in 1936 that could be seen across London. The original Crystal Palace was designed by Joseph Paxton to host the 1851 Great Exhibition, held when Britain sought to awe other nations with spoils from its empire and the wonders of industrialization. Originally located in Hyde Park, it was moved to south London in 1854, and Ni now wants to build a replica there to the original dimensions of about 500 meters (1,640 ft) long and 50 meters high. “This is going to recreate a 21st century version of the palace,” London Mayor Boris Johnson told reporters. “This isn’t an act of nostalgia. It is looking forward and it is about adorning our city with a world-class structure.” The 180-acre park, where the palace once stood and includes the original terraced steps, is currently home to an amphitheatre that once hosted reggae singer Bob Marley, a national sports centre and a collection of giant dinosaur sculptures, which also date from the 1850s. If the proposal goes through, it would be another example of China’s growing appetite for investments in Britain. A Chinese firm signed a deal this year to convert London’s Royal Albert Docks into the city’s third financial district. “London is renowned across the world for its history and culture,” said Ni, who says he was tied to Britain through his English-educated daughters and love of British art. “This project is a-once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring its spirit back to life by recreating the Crystal Palace and restoring the park to its former glory,” he said. The Chinese company, which says the project would create 2,000 jobs, is seeking to profit from its investment by drawing tourists and using the area to host international exhibitions. Residents of the surrounding area have rebuffed numerous development efforts in the past, including proposals to build a cinema, a new sports centre and housing developments. “It’s being dressed up as a heritage project but there’s not enough details, and the devil’s in the details,” said Amanda Sciberras, head of the Crystal Palace Residents’ Association, who said the proposal appeared to be a commercial venture rather than a cultural one. (Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
London Cash Buyers Send Banks North to Riskier Loans
Treasury said in a Sept. 29 statement. The guarantee will be available to lenders until January 2017 and the government probably will cap its liability at 12 billion pounds, according to a March filing by the Treasury. These mortgages may well be affordable now but interest rates have to go up at some point and peoples circumstances could change, said Rob Wood, chief U.K. economist for Berenberg Bank. It potentially increases the volatility of the market as and when this scheme is taken away and increases the risks people are taking, he said. The market is recovering anyway, it doesnt make any sense to have it recovering any faster than it already is, he said. U.K. lenders are already targeting the weakest housing markets with riskier loans as the London market is dominated by cash buyers. About 35 percent of homes bought in the U.K. this year were paid for entirely with cash, according to data compiled by broker Savills Plc. In London, its as many as 60 percent, with demand driven by purchasers from abroad who view the city as a safe haven, according to Richard Sexton, a director at e.surv, a unit of LSL Property Services Plc. Different Country The London market is like a different country almost, Sexton said. Thats a lot of foreign cash coming in. Gareth Hill, a spokesman for the Council of Mortgage Lenders , a trade association, declined to comment.
Del Potro boosts London hopes with title in Japan
View gallery Milos Raonic of Canada returns a shot to Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during their men’s singles (Reuters) – Top seed Juan Martin del Potro beat Canada’s Milos Raonic in the battle of big-servers on Sunday to bag the Japan Open title and boost his chances of qualifying for the end-of-season ATP World Tour finals in London. The 25-year-old Argentine, a last-minute wild-card entry for injured Andy Murray, won 7-6(5) 7-5 with the lone break of serve of the match coming at the fag end of the second set as Raonic lost the final in Tokyo for the second year running. The win gave del Potro his third title of the year and moved him up to fifth spot in the race to London while Raonic is 10th in the qualification race for next month’s tournament involving the top eight players of the world. Raonic, 22, who finished runner-up to Kei Nishikori last year, fired 17 aces and was untroubled in his service games before a crucial double fault in the first-set tie-breaker put del Potro ahead. The Argentine got his first break point opportunity in the 11th game in the second set and managed to convert the third to go 6-5 up before holding on in the next game to win in an hour and 43 minutes. “I played really well in the last two games of the match, returning all of his first serves,” del Potro told reporters. “It was a fantastic week for me as I played better and better with each match. “In the tie-break, he hit a double fault in the most important part of the match and then my chance came, which I knew I had to take. “I did what I could to win. When he serves well and hits aces, it means I have to be aggressive on serve. I threw in drop shots and came to the net to mix up my game.” Del Potro hit seven aces and had to save three break points in the first set against the Canadian, who had won their only meeting in Montreal in August. “I created opportunities and barring a double fault and a few points I could not have done much better,” Raonic rued.