British property entrepreneur eyeing S’pore luxury market

Straits Times: Thu, Dec 01

A PROPERTY entrepreneur who is behind London’s luxurious One Hyde Park project and who has decked out yachts and jets for tycoons is turning his sights to Singapore.

Briton Nicholas Candy told The Straits Times that he sees ‘massive opportunities’ here.

A mixed-use project possibly comprising a hotel, high-end homes and luxury retail valued at ‘hundreds of millions’, for example, would be something he would be keen to work on.

‘It’s finding the right site and the right partner; we wouldn’t do it without a local partner,’ Mr Candy says.

‘We haven’t got anything specific today but if we could find something, we would be very happy to. I think in the next year or so, we should be able to hopefully find a site.’

Mr Candy, 38, who set up the interior design and development management firm Candy & Candy with younger brother Christian, also said that he has spoken with some potential partners although nothing has been signed.

The brothers built the One Hyde Park residential development in London’s Knightsbridge, where a penthouse unit sold for £136 million (S$274 million) to Ukraine’s richest man, tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, in April.

Only 18 apartments in the 80-unit project designed by star architect Richard Rogers remain unsold. The remaining units have been sold for a total of £1.4 billion.

The firm is known for its super-luxury standards and has designed and outfitted yachts, jets, luxury cars and lavish homes for wealthy and famous clients, including royal families, Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal and Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

While money has been flowing from Asia to London, especially in the past five years, Mr Candy said he is looking in the opposite direction for expansion.

‘Asia already is one of the financial hubs of the world but there are lots more opportunities. Also, it hasn’t suffered as badly in the global financial crisis… and seems to be quite resilient.’

Mr Candy said Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, where the firm is working on a project designed by architect Zaha Hadid, are the Asian cities he likes best.

But he added that Singapore seems to be a easier place to do business than Hong Kong, where many established players dominate the purchases of sites.

‘What’s the great thing about somewhere like Singapore is that you can do things at a very quick speed. What you dream, you can build here,’ he added.

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.

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