(links here to earlier parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
One of the biggest criticisms I’ve seen of Chinese ownership of football clubs has been the feeling that Chinese owners of football clubs struggle to understand or comprehend how business works in the UK.
With this in mind, I think it’s interesting to look at how Wang is dealing with his other business enterprises in this country.
Back in June 2019 I mentioned that I had found a company in the UK called UK Wealth Holdings Development which was linked to Wang, and last month I made mention that the accounts for that company had been released.
Those accounts made mention of UWHD investing £36million in a former landfill site for development.
The Open Corporates website shows that UWHD controls a business called Denham Hollybush Investment Ltd, which was incorporated in July 2019.
A search of the land registry confirmed that Denham Hollybush Investment Ltd bought a parcel of land near Denham, Uxbridge on 9th August, 2019 for a consideration of £20million, with no lender involved.
The parcel of land lies close to the junction of the M40 and M25 motorways. It is also close to the proposed routes for the HS2 and Crossrail projects.
On the face of it, it looks like a great plot of land to buy for development purposes due to the excellent transport links it has.
However, it’s not that simple.
Denham is very much in Green Belt land, and the local Parish Council have long been against development of the landfill site.
Minutes from a meeting of the local Parish Council from May 2018 (PDF link) show that the Council was very much against development of the site due to vehicles causing hardship to residents of Denham, and that they were only happy with the land being restored to agricultural land.
There are also representations online (PDF link) submitted by a company acting on behalf of UWHD to the Chiltern and South Bucks Local Plan 2036. The Local Plan sets out how the councils in the area want the Green Belt land to be developed over the next 16 years.
Without removal of the Green Belt designation it would be very difficult to develop the land, and from speaking to a planning expert it could be difficult to obtain that amendment as the development is in isolation from the local settlement and isn’t big enough to provide all of the requirements that would be required.
Although I am reliant on someone else’s advice on this, I have to admit that I’m not sure I would have bought the land for development.
If this is the case, then the question has to be asked if UWHD (and by extension Wang) have been given poor advice, or if they have ignored advice completely and gone ahead anyway.
It’s a question that is in my opinion fairly analogous to the way the ownership has dealt with the running of Birmingham City FC.
While there are questions about what is going to happen with the development, there are a couple of things we can assume from the story.
Firstly, to be able to lend £36million to UWHD it would seem to prove that Wang has provable recent access to a large amount of money; something I’m sure fans will be happy to hear.
Secondly, it would appear that Wang is also strengthening his ties to the UK. This ties in with the rumours I have heard of him buying a new residential property in North London for his family to live in.
There are two things that concern me however.
Firstly, while the plot of land was bought for £20M, Wang lent UWHD £38M to make the purchase. That to me sounds like a lot of money spent on something that might not come off without expert assistance – something that could be said also for putting money into Blues.
Likewise, the amount lent is nearly double what was needed to buy the plot of land. I’m curious as to where the other £18M has gone, and why the land is now valued at £16M more than it was bought for despite no evidence of any planning permission being given.
That leads me to question whether the land was bought for development purposes at all – and just why it was bought.
That question among other previous stories surrounding the elusive Mr King does not fill me with any confidence.