PETALING JAYA (Aug 29): Eco World International Bhd’s (EWI) 70% owned UK joint-venture, EcoWorld London Holdings Ltd has entered into heads of terms with Invesco Real Estate and its investors to forward funding the development of more than 1,000 new build-to-rent (BTR) homes in Kew and Barking worth nearly £400 million (RM2.11 billion).

Under the deal, EcoWorld London will complete the construction of the developments to the high specifications agreed with the investors and will then undertake the long-term management of the assets on their behalf, stated a press release by EWI today.

While the detailed contractual arrangements are targeted to be concluded by the end of October 2018, planning permission has been secured for both sites and development work has already commenced with construction due to complete in stages from 2020 onwards.

EcoWorld London CEO Cheong Heng Leong said that the deal highlights the immense opportunities in the emerging build-to-rent sector and represents an important new engine of growth for EcoWorld London and the UK.

"Kew and Barking are great locations for renters in terms of affordability, connectivity and local amenities, and we have identified many more of such sites within EcoWorld London’s existing portfolio where we can deliver our build-to-rent projects.

"This will stabilise and enhance EcoWorld International’s income generating capacity going forward to include steady cashflows from institutional investors buying BTR properties to complement retail sales made to local homeowners and international investors on the open market sale side of the business,” he said in the statement.

The Kew site is located next to the new Brentford Football Club’s 17,250 capacity stadium while the Barking site is located next to the historically important Barking Abbey.

Both sites are well connected to Central London through train and underground networks and offer highly desirable yet affordable rental accommodation for tenants, according to EWI.

EWI executive vice-chairman Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin added that the company sees great potential in the UK BTR market and it seeks to conclude more similar deals.

"In the future we will seek to do more deals of this kind and we have already received expressions of interest from other funds, particularly from Asia, keen to pursue potential investments into the UK build-to-rent sector,” he said.

"As a business we are perfectly placed to develop and manage these schemes to the high quality that investors and residents expect from us and through EcoWorld London we have the best in class build-to-rent capabilities – this significant investment by a US-based global pension fund in two of our projects is testament to that,” he said.

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