Nov. 5 - London's famous skyline is changiong fast thanks to a surge of foreign investments in London's commercial property market. Ivor Bennett reports.
It's a skyline that's famous around the world, but it's one that's changing fast. A surge of foreign investment in London's property market's seen cranes hoisted, and diggers started. With returns of up to 5%, there are signs of a turnaround. SOUNDBITE (English) ALISTAIR ELLIOT, HEAD OF COMMERCIAL DIVISION, KNIGHT FRANK, SAYING, "First and foremost is the attractiveness of London as a secure investment market. You know what you're buying and you know you own it. Secondly there is the attractiveness of the sterling and the exchange rates overseas. And thirdly, the growing sovereign wealth around the world." The sale of Battersea power station is this year's headline deal. Derelict and dilapidated maybe...but this London icon is a prime piece of real estate. And its purchase shows where the real money's coming from. SOUNDBITE (English) REUTERS REPORTER IVOR BENNETT SAYING, "400 million pounds was how much this site's Malaysian investors paid in the end and they're expected to sink a further 8 billion pound into renovating it. The deal's helped put Malaysia top of the pile when it comes to who's spent the most in London's commercial sector." Europe's tallest building - the shard - is one of several other new sites funded from abroad with buyers targeting the residential sector too. Qatari money's behind this, but Emirati buyers are taking a back seat this year to Asian demand. Malaysian investment accounts for 10% of this year's total with China and India also big players attracted by a weak pound. Analysts say this isn't a one-off either. SOUNDBITE (English) MARK FARMER, HEAD OF RESIDENTIAL, EC HARRIS, SAYING, "I don't think that will be a short-term blip I think there's a long term trading position there. It's going to be a return to sustainable long term growth." London's property market's now attracting more money than any other in Europe. Property consultants CBRE puts overseas investment at 30 billion pounds so far this year. That's 15 percent more than last year's total already - with 2 months still to go.