Chinese investment in commercial property in the United Kingdom has fallen by more than 70 percent this year, according to new data, with analysts attributing the drop to the control of capital outflows from China and uncertainty over Britain's pending exit from the European Union.
Investors from the Chinese mainland spent $325 million on commercial property in the UK in the first quarter of this year, according to property consultants Cushman and Wakefield.
This is 70.5 percent lower than the quarterly average over the past five years of $1.1 billion.
Spending was markedly down on 2017, when Chinese investors spent $5.10 billion on UK commercial property in the first half of the year. This included the sale of two landmark skyscrapers in London - known as the Cheesegrater and the Walkie Talkie - to Chinese buyers.
"First quarter investment in the UK this year was down as the controls kick in and trophy offices lose favor, but development opportunities are still attractive," said Richard Coleman, head of communications for Europe, the Middle East and Asia at Cushman and Wakefield.
The authors of the report said that recent regulations in China have sought to place additional scrutiny on deals involving 'trophy assets'.
The report said several other factors have also impacted upon investment levels. These include strong competition from South Korean investors, the steady recovery of the pound against the renminbi, and the UK's scheduled withdrawal from the EU on March 29, 2019.
UK real estate expert and buying agent Henry Pryor said the latter has made Chinese buyers more cautious.
"There are capital controls, and there is Brexit," Pryor said. "The property market does not like uncertainty, and if you are a Chinese investor, are you going to want to commit before March 29, 2019, or will you probably say, do you know what, I don't know what's going to happen but I can put it off until June next year."
Investors from the Chinese mainland spent a total of $5.6 billion on commercial property globally in the first quarter of 2018, a decrease of 27 percent year-on-year and the lowest quarterly amount since 2015, according to Cushman and Wakefield.
There were 28 deals over the quarter, with an average transaction size of $198 million, which was 28 percent larger than the average deal size over the past five years of $155 million.
Notable transactions in the UK this past quarter included the $103 million sale of a development on Millbrook Park in London to Poly Real Estate, and the $94 million acquisition of 60 Gresham Street, also in the capital, by Bank of China.