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Canary Wharf Group Close To Making Foray Into China With Huge New Scheme

Sir George Iacobescu with a puppy
Sir George Iacobescu admires a puppy at Bisnow's London State of the Market event

For 20 years, Canary Wharf Group did not venture outside of London’s Docklands area, let alone outside of the U.K.

Now it is part of a consortium that will develop a massive new city the size of Paris about 60 miles from Beijing, in its first overseas venture, according to Sky News

According to the report Canary Wharf has signed an agreement with Bank of China and Xiong'An Construction Investment Group to be one of the developers of the 60-square-mile Xiong’An New Area. The deal will be announced during Prime Minister Theresa May’s current trip to China. Canary Wharf Group Chief Executive Sir George Iacobescu is also on the trip.

Canary Wharf
Cabot Square

China’s New Areas are special economic zones that receive government support, and the Xiong'An New Area is being directly overseen by the ruling Communist Party. Many government functions could be relocated there from Beijing. It has been described as a dream project by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Specific details about the development that will take place there are sparse. It is described as a new city comprising homes, offices, retail and leisure. This mixed-use nature is likely to appeal to Canary Wharf — a major part of its new Wood Wharf development next to Canary Wharf in Docklands will be residential and retail. 

A deal in Asia would be a sign that Canary Wharf Group now has global ambitions following its £2.6B takeover in 2015 by Brookfield and the Qatar Investment Authority.

Having completed its first building in 1991 under its previous guise of Olympia & York, Canary Wharf did not move outside of its home turf of London’s Docklands until 2010. Even then it did not go far, just 3.5 miles west, to form a joint venture with Landsec to build the Walkie Talkie in the City of London. It is also redeveloping the former headquarters of Shell near Waterloo station.