Bristol offices 'on the radar' of Chinese investors

Office space in Bristol.


BRISTOL'S office space buildings, such as Lloyds' Amphitheatre, could woo Chinese investors to the city. Many experts believe the London market – which traditionally attracts most of the love from overseas money men – is overheating, with investors looking elsewhere for matches.

Tim Davies, head of the Bristol office of commercial property firm Colliers International, is among those who think the city is well placed to cut in.

"Bristol is an ideal conduit for investment cash flowing into the UK from China," he said.

"While overseas investors continue to make a beeline for London, the Chinese have started looking further afield to find good quality commercial property investments. And office space in Bristol could be the solution.

"This is already attracting investors to office space in Manchester and office space in Birmingham, but we are confident Bristol's iconic office space and big-name occupiers will have put us on their radar."

He added: "Chinese investors want to invest in iconic buildings such as the Lloyds amphitheatre, with major occupiers and tenants.

"As the London market begins to overheat, the opportunities become rarer, and naturally overseas investors will be looking further afield at the major regional markets. Office space in Bristol is very much on their horizon."

China is already very much in Bristol's own sights.

Mayor George Ferguson visited twin city, Guangzhou, in November, which led to a memorandum of understanding, committing the two cities to closer ties in education, employment, sustainability and science.

And Bonnie Dean, chief executive of the Bristol and Bath Science Park, was among the delegates on a trade mission to China, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, in December.

The park, which provides both office space and lab space for businesses, is ripe for investment because it was created with room for more buildings.

However, no developer has yet been prepared to take the risk and build.

The charm offensive seems to be paying off. China's ambassador addressed an event earlier this month with the message that the country was ready to do business with Bristol and use office space in Bristol.

Minister counsellor Zhou Xiaoming was speaking at an event organised by the Bristol China Partnership at Zen restaurant in the Harbourside.

Darren Jones, from Bristol Junior Chamber of Commerce, was among those who attended

He said: "Our professional members are increasingly aware of the importance of the Chinese market to their companies and their clients."

Bristol China Partnership director of business initiatives, Richard Low, said the group was going back to China later this year on another trade mission.

He said: "We are looking to take 10 green, hi-tech and creative businesses on our mission to China later this year in order to look at exporting technology, innovation or design services to the rapidly expanding market there."

Bristol, then, is wooing China on two fronts – sending emissaries aboard with heartfelt messages of love, while showing off the allure of its vibrant and sexy office landscape at home.

Whether it results in a long-term marriage or a quick fling is anyone's guess.

By Gavin Thompson

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