YTL set to increase investments in UK

Malaysian investor YTL Group plans to keep increasing its investments in the United Kingdom, shrugging off Brexit uncertainty.

The group currently has more than £3 billion worth of assets in the UK and is eyeing new investments, said executive chairman Tan Sri Dato Francis Yeoh.

“We have been a long-time investor in the UK and are very comfortable with the environment. We provide quality, stable jobs and give credit to our employees and the YTL family for our success in the UK.

“YTL currently owns Wessex Water Plc and five luxury hotels in the UK. We are also starting our flagship property development project, Brabazon, in Bristol. There are more to come as we are looking for opportunities,” said Dato Yeoh in Bristol recently.

Who are YTL?

YTL is a Malaysian infrastructure firm, founded in 1955 by Yeoh Tiong Lay, after whom the group is named. 

The company has grown from a small construction firm into an international utilities company, owning UK assets such as Wessex Water, The Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel and Thermae Bath Spa in Bath, along with hotels in London and Edinburgh.

In 2002, YTL emerged as the largest Malaysian investor in the UK with the acquisition of Wessex Water.

Over the past 17 years of the YTL ownership, Wessex Water has consistently been rated as one of the best performing water and sewerage companies by OFWAT, the UK water industry regulator, and is three-time winner of the Queen’s Award for Sustainability.

Special recognition for YTL’s contribution

On 13 October 2019, YTL Group executive chairman Tan Sri Francis Yeoh was presented with the honorary British award of Knight Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) for his contribution in strengthening UK-Malaysia bilateral relations.

The award was presented by Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, at his official residence at Clarence House on Oct 13.

Yeoh said he was humbled and honoured by the recognition and attributed it to the hard work and dedication of all employees — around 10,000 globally — in the YTL Group.

“I am grateful that the British government recognises YTL’s contribution to the economy. The knighthood was something that I did not expect but I am very thankful for” he said after the ceremony.

10-15-year development

YTL Developments UK has commenced work on the first phase of Brabazon, its flagship property development project at the former Filton airfield in Bristol, named after the aircraft which took its maiden flight from the airfield in 1949.

This major development will be a new and thriving township in the north of Bristol city and is one of the largest master-planned projects in the United Kingdom.

The 153.8ha brownfield site will have 2,675 homes, 25ha of employment space (traditional office space to light industry), a mixed-use town centre, three new schools, student housing, a health centre, a university campus, recreational spaces, sport and leisure facilities, parks and green spaces.

The company submitted a planning application to start building the first cluster of the 2,675 homes late last year.

On 20 March 2019, South Gloucestershire Council granted approval to YTL to build the first 278 homes on the historic site, along with a 3.6ha park.

YTL Developments will also build a 17,080-seater arena in the nearby Brabazon hangar, which could rival London’s O2 and Birmingham’s NEC. The company will develop the site into a world-class venue for the city. It will be the largest indoor arena in the South West of England and the third largest in the UK, putting Bristol on the world stage for live music and entertainment. 

Yeoh said the Brabazon project could take 10 to 15 years to be fully developed, but he is excited about the city’s prospects.

“As you can see, our investment in Bristol is long-term. We are targeting to launch the first phase of the development in the first half of next year and will steadily bring more products to the market thereafter.”