Prime Minister David Cameron, highlighting investment possibilities in Britain on the eve of the Olympics, said a $12.4 billion redevelopment of London’s Battersea Power Station will create 33,000 jobs.
Speaking at a government-organized investment conference in the capital, Cameron said today he expects more than 1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) worth of deals to be announced this summer as businesses capitalize on the London games. More than 200 business leaders, central bankers and government officials from around the world are attending.
“I’m delighted at the news today about one of the big deals we were pursuing when I was in Malaysia,” Cameron said. “Battersea Power Station is one of the iconic landmarks in London. Any Pink Floyd fans will know it from the cover of their album, ‘Animals.”’
Malaysia’s SP Setia Bhd. (SPSB) and Sime Darby Bhd. (SIME) bought the power-station site on the south bank of the River Thames from liquidators for 400 million pounds earlier this month and plan to develop homes, offices and shops. The investors will retain the Art Deco power plant. The building, with its four iconic 350-foot (105-meter) smokestacks, has been vacant since it closed in 1982.
The development will create 20,000 jobs during construction with 13,000 permanent jobs at the end, Cameron said, calling it “quite simply one of the most exciting opportunities for investment anywhere in the Western world.”
Cameron is seeking to boost inward investment in Britain after figures published yesterday showed the economy shrank the most since 2009 in the second quarter. That’s added to pressure on the prime minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to scale back Britain’s biggest budget squeeze since World War II.
“They’re very disappointing figures and there’s no doubt about that,” Cameron told the BBC’s “Breakfast” program today. “I think one of the things they show is the extent of damage that was done to the economy in the ‘boom and bust’ years. We were the ones with the most over-indebted banks, the most over-indebted households and we had the biggest budget deficit of virtually any country, anywhere in the world.”
Gross domestic product fell 0.7 percent from the first quarter, when it dropped 0.3 percent, the Office for National Statistics said. It was the third consecutive quarterly decline.
Defending the government’s package of austerity measures, Cameron said in his speech to business leaders and central bankers today that “the first thing you need as investors is confidence in the long-term stability of the economy you are investing in. You need to know that the public finances are under control, and that your businesses aren’t suddenly going to be crippled by soaring interest rates.”
Previous plans for the Battersea site, 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers) from the Houses of Parliament, included a theme park and a mall that would have been suspended between the chimneys. At least 10 bids were submitted for the building, including one from Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea Football Club Ltd., a person familiar with the matter said in May.
SP Setia, the Southeast Asian nation’s biggest publicly traded property developer by sales, and Sime Darby will each take a 40 percent stake in the project. The Employees Provident Fund, Malaysia’s biggest pension fund, will hold the remainder, they said.
Those attending today’s conference include International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Bank of England Governor Mervyn King.
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