On Tuesday, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, a subsidiary of Cheung Kong, won preliminary approval from London Mayor Boris Johnson to build 3,500 homes in the borough of Lewisham, less than 3.2km from the Canary Wharf financial district in London, according to Bloomberg, citing statements from the mayor and the company.

 Although a price was not confirmed it is now believed that Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong Group of companies has spent over 30 billion pounds ($49.93 billion) on investments into the United Kingdom in recent years, making it the largest overseas investor into the UK.

On Wednesday the Hong Kong Daily News reported that the group now provides gas distribution service to one-fourth of the population in the UK and controls 30 percent of the country's power supplies through Electricite de France (EDF) SA's British electricity network business, which Li Ka-shing, Asia's richest man bought in 2010.

li ka-shing    Li Ka-shing 

High returns of investment and strong protection for foreign investors offered by the EU market is a major draw, Li Zhanjun, research director at Shanghai-based E-House China R&D Institute, told the Global Times Wednesday.

"As the EU's economy recovers, the property market there started to restore gradually. So it is a good time for Chinese investors like Li to further their presence in the market now, in order to take advantage of rock bottom prices," said Li Zhanjun.

The Hong Kong billionaire has been heavily investing in Europe in recent years.

In 2011, Li acquired Northumbrian Water, one of the UK's leading water companies, for £2.4 billion. A year later, he bought UK gas company Wales and West Utilities for 645 million pounds.

And in the first half of last year alone, Li made four overseas acquisitions including the Irish subsidiary of Spanish telecommunications provider Telefonica SA and Waste processing RAV Water Treatment I B.V. in Netherlands, worth a total of HK$24.9 billion, according to media reports.

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