EcoWorld International and Willmott Dixon have finalised the first part of a deal for the 70% acquisition of Be Living

EcoWorld International Berhad (EcoWorld International) and Willmott Dixon have finalised the first part of a deal for the 70% acquisition by EcoWorld of Willmott Dixon’s development business Be Living and jointly develop 12 sites in Greater London and the South East of England.

The estimated total gross development value (GDV) of the 12 sites is at least £2.5 billion with acquisition of the sites to be carried out in 2 stages.

The joint-venture also includes the 70% acquisition of a development management company with an experienced team. Going forward, the development manager will manage the JV projects as well as Be Living’s existing ongoing projects. This will provide EcoWorld International with a strong talent pool to expand its UK business.

The definitive agreement for the stage 1 sites has been signed with Be Living and negotiations are at an advanced stage for the stage 2 sites. EcoWorld International targets to conclude negotiations on the stage 2 and complete its acquisition of the stage 1 sites by Q1 2018.

The 12 sites which are the subject of the joint-venture are all located close to transport links offering an easy commute to Central London and International Airports. The stage 1 sites to be acquired are as follows:

No. Borough

  1. Woking
  2. Brent and Westminster, London
  3. Barnet, London
  4. Barking and Dagenham, London
  5. Barking and Dagenham, London
  6. Hounslow, London

The stage 2 sites are as follows:

No. Borough

  1. Hounslow, London
  2. Bromley, London
  3. Lambeth, London
  4. Hounslow, London
  5. Ealing, London
  6. Tower Hamlets, London

Most of these sites have received planning consent which will enable the Group to move on to plan for the launch of the consented sites within a year of completion of site acquisition.

Through this opportunity EcoWorld International plans to both develop mainstream residential units for open market sale and also to enter the build to rent market, as demand grows for purpose built private rental accommodation. Owing to the location of the sites outside Central London, the price point envisaged for the products to be developed by the joint-venture will range from £500 per square foot (psf) to £800 psf. This broadens the spectrum of price points currently offered by EcoWorld International’s existing portfolio of development projects and will allow it to tap into the large pool of domestic and foreign investors in the affordable segment.

In addition, EcoWorld will be able to leverage on Willmott Dixon’s long-established reputation in the construction industry, as well as extensive network of business relations and contacts developed with key stakeholders and local authorities, to potentially participate as a co-developer in off-market residential schemes.

Commenting on today’s deal, Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Liew Kee Sin, Executive Vice Chairman of EcoWorld International, said:

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of several months of hard work in reaching this deal with Be Living that will transform not just the size but also the scale & scope of our operations in the UK. We are truly appreciative of our new partners at both Willmott Dixon and Be Living for the faith they have placed in us to grow the joint-venture’s development business in the UK we will do our utmost to bring value to the partnership by applying the best of what we have learnt as a developer operating in three different continents to the projects that we will be undertaking together. Given the breadth & depth of our combined and complementary strengths in the international arena and local UK market, I am both confident and tremendously excited about what we can achieve through this joint-venture.”

Commenting on today’s deal, Rick Willmott, Chief Executive of Willmott Dixon said:

“We are delighted to have exchanged contracts with EcoWorld, who are an ideal partner to work with as we position Be Living for its next stage of growth. EcoWorld's track-record in the UK and our shared ambition to create thousands of new homes through Be Living’s strong management team will create an exciting proposition for the residential market and is also a big vote of confidence in the future prosperity of our country as we get ready for Brexit. We are looking forward to forging a strong and sustainable future together”