Huang Nubo, the Chinese billionaire who’s in talks with Iceland on alternative proposals after a $200 million investment in the nation was rejected, said he’s looking for similar tourism projects in Finland and Denmark.
The developer is planning to spend “tens of millions” of U.S. dollars for so-called holiday villages in the two countries, he said in Shanghai. The investments will be scaled down because the site in Iceland was a lot bigger, he said.
Huang is expanding outside China to take advantage of declining global asset prices amid a market rout triggered by the European debt crisis. The MSCI World Index (MXWO) has fallen 8.8 percent this year, set for its first decline in three years.
“Right now, the Iceland 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, known as CEIBS. “I am now in talks with Finland and Denmark about investing there.”
Huang, 55, founder and chairman of Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group Co. told reporters that he’s still in talks with Iceland on alternative proposals, including leasing the land for a similar project. While some government officials are keen on his investment, it faces opposition from others taking a nationalistic stance, he said.
Huang said in September he was in talks to buy the 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 last month.
Investing in Iceland
“They still hope that China will invest in the country,” Huang said today. “They feel that they haven’t had such a big investment in a long while.”
Iceland, which is emerging from the failure of its bank industry in 2008, is now enjoying faster economic growth than the average in the euro area, the International Monetary Fund 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 today that he’s considering investing in Norway.
Huang is estimated by Forbes magazine to have a fortune of $1.02 billion, an amount he said is too low.
In China, Huang is known for helping restore the 200-year- old villages Xidi and Hongcun around Huangshan mountain in eastern Anhui province, which are now included on the UNESCO world heritage list. He later built and operates resorts near the villages.
--Liza Lin, with assistance from Bonnie Cao in Shanghai. Editors: Linus Chua, Andreea Papuc
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andreea Papuc at email@example.com