The Chinese men who have been buying up London


Hugh van Cutsem funeral

There are some lists where the famous name at the top never changes from year to year. In recent years we have faced some shocks with Oprah Winfrey losing the title of most influential celebrity, and Bill Gates briefly failing to be named the richest man in the world. However, the Duke of Westminster weathered all changes. Nothing could ever knock him off the top stop as the richest investor in UK property.

Except somehow this year he's fallen to fourth place.

The Estates Gazzette Rich List is out and after a decade of being topped by the Duke, he has been relegated to 4th place. In his place are two Chinese businessmen who the vast majority of Brits have never heard of.

The top spot has gone to China's Wang Jianlin, who is valued at a staggering £10.4 billion and Forbes says is the richest man in China. He has bought up the One Nine Elms slice of the Vauxhall South Bank regeneration scheme (the bit that includes Battersea Power Station). He made his fortune developing shopping centres, and now has a number of interests around the world.

In second place is Henry Cheng Kar-Shun, whose enormous global real estate business is based in Hong Kong. He has a net worth of £10.3 billion, and has entered this list by investing in the Greenwich Peninsula. He is now the proud owner of 300 acres of SE10.

In third place are the Reuben Brothers, based in Switzerland, who are valued at £8.3 billion. Their global real estate business is run alongside private equity, and venture capital interests. And their London holdings include the Piccadilly Estate in Mayfair, The Millbank Centre and Millbank Tower, and the John Lewis headquarters.

The Duke is hardly struggling in 4th place, with a fortune of £8 billion through his running of the Grosvenor Estate - which includes 300 acres of land in Mayfair and Belgravia, which the family has owned since 1677.

You could argue that the toppling of the Duke was only a matter of time, as London property has become increasingly attractive to overseas investors. It's a particularly solid investment in a time when volatility dominates, it has seen spectacular returns over the years, and the languishing pound makes it a good deal for foreign investors.

However, you could also look at the top ten and wonder where all the Brits have gone. It includes three investors based in China, two in Switzerland, one in the Czech Republic, one in Australia, two British aristocrats, and Sir Philip and Lady Green. Its hardly a sign of the vitality of British investment prowess now is it?