Pub that Xi made famous sold to Chinese investor

By Wang Mingjie in London | | Updated: 2016-12-05 23:19

Pub that Xi made famous sold to Chinese investor

President Xi Jinping drinks a pint of beer with British Prime Minister David Cameron at The Plough at Cadsden in Princes Risborough, northwest of London, on Oct 22, 2015. The two leaders met for talks and dinner during a four-day state visit hailed as landmark by both China and Britain. [Photo by Wu Zhiyi/China Daily]

The country pub where then-Prime Minister David Cameron treated President Xi Jinping to fish and chips and a pint during Xi's state visit last yearhas been sold to a Chinese investor.

The Plough at Cadsden in rural Buckinghamshire shot to fame in China after the presidential visit and has since become a tourist attraction, with busloads of Chinese tourists arriving to sample the same classic British fare.

The value of the purchase by SinoFortone Investment was not disclosed but the company said previous owner Steve Hollings would continue to run the pub.

Peter Zhang, SinoFortone Investment's managing director, welcomed the deal, saying: "The English pub concept is growing very fast in China, and it's the best way, culturally, to link people from different countries and build friendships."

Sales of Greene King IPA (short for India Pale Ale), the brew consumed by Xi and Cameron, are said to have soared in China during the last year.

The Plough deal was brokered through Christie & Co, a leading specialist advisor for buying and selling businesses.

Neil Morgan, managing director of its public houses and restaurants department, said: "The Chinese market has huge potential and many opportunities. We will see more activity over the coming months and years."

Morgan said an increasing number of Chinese investors had been approaching the company to express an interest in British hospitality and leisure opportunities, and also in taking classic British themes to China.

Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group, said the latest deal showed that Chinese tourists were looking for authentic British places to visit, such as the pub Xi visited.

He said Chinese tourists were shifting away from shopping to experiences. Museums, palaces, and pubs were all becoming major tourist destinations.

The Plough purchase is not SinoFortone's first investment in the UK. Last October, it announced it would invest 2 billion pounds in two eco-parks, in north and southwest Wales.

"So, this pub purchase is consistent with that focus," said Jeffrey Towson, a professor who teaches investment at Peking University. He added that this particular investment also has symbolic meaning.

The fact that Xi had visited the Plough was important to Chinese tourists, but it was also important to a prominent Chinese-owned company such as SinoFortone, he said.

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