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Chinese tycoon in record £210m deal for London mansion

London

A CHINESE property magnate is close to breaking London's house-price record with the purchase of a 45-room mansion in Knightsbridge for £210 million (S$370 million).

The private family office of Cheung Chung Kiu has agreed to buy the palatial home at 2-8a Rutland Gate, overlooking Hyde Park, a spokesman said in a statement.

The deal would be a bright spot for the British capital's moribund luxury property market, and a sign that the world's wealthiest are being lured by the weak pound as the UK's exit from the European Union draws near.

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The sale price is set to be £210 million, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction who asked not to be identified because the terms are not yet public.

It would be the biggest for a house in the UK, eclipsing the £140 million reportedly paid for a country house in Oxfordshire nearly a decade ago.

It would also be one of the richest deals worldwide, topping the US$238 million that Ken Griffin, founder of hedge-fund firm Citadel, paid last year for a penthouse in Manhattan.

No decision has been made on whether the property will remain a single house or be converted into luxury apartments.

Based on sale prices at the nearby Peninsula London project, a redevelopment of the building that turned it into apartments could be worth as much as £700 million, the spokesman said.

Mr Cheung is founder and chairman of CC Land Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed property company that mainly invests in western China and has been active in the UK since 2016.

In Britain, CC Land is best known for buying the "Cheesegrater" skyscraper, formally known as the Leadenhall Building, in London's financial district. The private purchase of the house in Knightsbridge was brokered by Beauchamp Estates.

The property, close to London's best known luxury residential development One Hyde Park and department store Harrods, was once the home of Rafic Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon, who was assassinated in 2005.

It also served as the London home of Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the late crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

Elie Chamat, a co-founder of Decisive Wealth, a Swiss wealth manager that manages the property on behalf of the heirs of the late crown prince, said the sale shows investors are willing to bet on a pick-up in property prices and the resilience of the pound.

The deal is notable, "especially as we know how difficult the super-high-value residential market has been", he said.

The seven-storey white stucco house provides 62,000 square feet of living space. It was originally built in the 1830s as a terrace of four townhouses, but in the mid-1980s the terrace was remodelled into a single Italianate private palace.

The house has a series of grand state rooms, with bullet-proof windows, several passenger elevators, a swimming pool, private health spa and gymnasium and underground parking. BLOOMBERG