Overseas holiday villages planned

Updated: 2011-12-30 07:37

By Liza Lin and Bonnie Cao (China Daily)

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SHANGHAI - Huang Nubo, the Chinese billionaire who is in talks with Iceland about alternatives to a proposed $200 million tourism project in the country that was eventually rejected, said he is looking for there to be similar projects in Finland and Denmark.

The developer is planning to spend "tens of millions" of US dollars on so-called holiday villages in the two countries, he said in Shanghai. The investments will be decreased in amount because the new sites are smaller than the one in Iceland, he said.

Huang is expanding outside China to take advantage of declining global asset prices amid a market rout prompted by the European debt crisis. The MSCI World Index, a stock market index, has fallen 8.8 percent this year.

"Right now, the Icelandic government is still deciding on the investment, but I won't wait either," Huang said, speaking after an event at the China Europe International Business School. "I am now in talks with Finland and Denmark about investing there."

Huang, founder and chairman of Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group Co, said he is still in talks with Iceland about alternative proposals, such as leasing the land for a similar project. While some government officials have responded eagerly to his investment, he faces opposition from others who have taken a nationalistic stance, he said.

In September, Huang said he was in talks to buy land in the north of Iceland for $8.8 million from a group of farmers. Huang had planned to invest about $200 million to build a resort with a hotel, golf course and racecourse. The bid was rejected as the transfer of property would be "incompatible" with the country's laws, the Reykjavik-based Internal Affairs Ministry said this past month.

"They still hope that China will invest in the country," Huang said. "They feel that they haven't had such a big investment in a long while."

Iceland, which is emerging from the failure of its banking industry in 2008, is now enjoying faster economic growth than the average in the euro area, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates. Iceland's gross domestic product will expand 2.5 percent next year, more than double the 1.1 percent the IMF estimates the 17-member euro area will expand.

The developer said in September that he would expand in other Nordic countries if he was able to buy the site in Iceland. He said he is looking at investing in Norway.

Huang is estimated by Forbes magazine to have a fortune of $1.02 billion.

In China, Huang is known for helping to restore the 200-year-old villages of Xidi and Hongcun, which are now on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's world heritage list. He later built resorts near the villages.

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