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Chinese Billionaire Won’t Give Up on Iceland Plan After Snub

Residential housing and rooftops are seen in this skyline view of Reykjavik, Iceland. Photographer: Paul Taggart/Bloomberg
Residential housing and rooftops are seen in this skyline view of Reykjavik, Iceland. Photographer: Paul Taggart/Bloomberg

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The Chinese billionaire who plans a $200 million property investment in Iceland said he’s not giving up on his plan even after it was thwarted a second time.

Huang Nubo, chairman of Beijing Zhongkun Investment Group Co., said he hasn’t been asked by the Icelandic government to submit additional information or resubmit a plan to lease and develop land in Iceland. Nubo said he is not sure what other information to provide and that he hasn’t been given a deadline.

“I’m very angry and annoyed at how bad the investment environment in Iceland is,” Huang said in a phone interview from Beijing today. “I will not withdraw the application from my side first. I’d rather wait for them to say they don’t welcome my investment.”

Iceland cabinet ministers were unable to make a final decision on Huang’s application because of a lack of information, and the billionaire who wants to lease land and build a resort must reapply for government permission to proceed, Reuters reported yesterday citing Iceland state radio RUV as saying. Iceland’s government last year rejected Huang’s bid to buy 300 square kilometers (116 square miles) of land, saying it would be “incompatible” with the law amid opposition to foreign ownership of property.

Huang said in July that he secured a deal to lease the property instead, reviving the project. Today, Huang said that he is not going to change the investment amount.

Being Romantic

The 56-year-old had planned to develop a resort and a mountain park in Iceland as a launchpad to invest in neighboring countries including Denmark and Sweden, he said last year. The Iceland project will not generate a lot of returns, however it would serve as a good starting point for the company’s Nordic plan, Huang said today.

“It is the Iceland government that invited me to invest; maybe I shouldn’t have been that romantic, but cautious,” said Huang, who is a member of China’s writers’ association and has published several books of poetry. Huang also donated $1 million to set up the China Iceland Cultural Fund.

He said he will review the investment environment in Nordic countries if Iceland definitely rejects his plan.

The billionaire, who has properties in California and Tennessee, is known for helping restore the 200-year-old villages Xidi and Hongcun around Huangshan mountain in China’s eastern Anhui province, which are now included on the UNESCO world heritage list. The company built and operates resorts near the villages, according to Beijing Zhongkun’s website.

Closely held Beijing Zhongkun’s revenue last year was about 2 billion yuan ($321 million), according to Huang.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Bonnie Cao in Shanghai at bcao4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andreea Papuc at apapuc1@bloomberg.net

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