Wednesday, July 20, 2011

News Corp to profit from Convoy's Wharf - don't miss the exhibition 23 July

Hutchison Whampoa and the development team for Convoys Wharf invite you to a public exhibition of their proposals to "regenerate this key Deptford site".

The Red Room, ground floor at The Albany
Saturday 23 July, 10am-5pm

On the table: 3,500 new homes, 120,000sqft of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars, a 300-room hotel, a new primary school, 550,000sqft of employment and wharf uses and 100,000sqft of arts and cultural uses. The amended outline planning application is due for re-submission to Lewisham's Planning Dept in the next two weeks and the exhibition will provide info on the final proposals.

See our last post about the development and the developer's dodgy background helping the Burmese military dictatorship, or check the Deptford Dame's post from July 2010 on the previously revised proposals.

Although most people think the land was sold by News International in 2005 to the Chinese conglomerate, in fact Rupert Murdoch's empire still has a big role in the development. A Sustainability Statement planning document submitted in 2010 is authored by "Convoys Investment S.a.r.l - News International Limited". Each page of the document is titled Convoys Investment S.a.r.l and News International Limited. Hutchison Whampoa Property.

It can be downloaded from the developer's website here. However, if you go to the site via you'll find that clicking anywhere on the home page will get you an invite to the exhibition on Saturday and nowhere else on the site. We wonder why?

If you followed the Culture, Media & Sport's Select Committee's grilling of the Murdochs you'll have heard Rupert say many times that the News of the World was "small in the general frame of our company" and "one per cent of our business" and "it was such a tiny part of our business" etc. It is hardly a surprise then that they were happy to close down the newspaper, and that News Corp's shares continue to rise. Meanwhile, it appears the Royal Naval Dockyard of King Henry VIII is another small part of News Corp's business, and King Henry VIII must be rolling in his grave.

Back in 2005 when the deal was done, reported it thus:

HONG KONG (AFX) - Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd said a unit, which they control jointly, has entered into an agreement with News Property One Ltd to buy a 16-hectare property in London for 100 mln stg (£100m).

Cheung Kong company secretary Eirene Yeung and Hutchison Whampoa company secretary Edith Shih said in a joint announcement that the property, currently used for warehousing, is to be redeveloped for mixed residential and commercial use.

'The addition of the property to the landbank for development into residential and commercial properties is consistent with one of the core business strategies for both (Cheung Kong) and (Hutchison Whampoa),' they said.

Convoys Investment Sarl, which is held 50-50 by the two companies, also entered into a profit participation agreement with News Property which provides, among other things, for Convoys to pay News Property for any additional area 'over which planning permission comprising private residential housing is obtained.....' 

News Corp's relationship with Hutchison Whampoa is fairly old: in 1991, Hutchinson Whampoa co- owned and launched a satellite that broadcast STAR TV to 38 Asian countries (52% of the world's population) through a three-way joint venture between Hutchison (18%), News Corp (63%) and Li Ka Shing (head of Hutchison) (19%). In 1993, the Li family and Hutchison sold their interests in Star TV to News Corp for $525m.

Read more about the Hutchison Whampoa 'global powerhouse' here. You maybe surprised at the extent of their telecommunications empire (they own 3G among others), as well as their hold over the world's container ports, property, hotels, retail and manufacturing, energy and infrastructure etc, much of which is registered offshore of course. Curiously, the ageing Li Ka Shing continues to head up Hutchison and take big gambles although his son Victor is the heir apparent – sound a familiar story?

Oh well, let's hope the London Borough of Lewisham has got the best deal out of these old scoundrels as it can possibly get.


  1. I personally don't care if News Corp profits out of this. This part of Deptford needs improving. In the end of the day the people interviewing them are just as bad or has everyone forgotton about the expenses scandal.

  2. Anon, hopefully you are not a News International troll but you sound like one, since you have confused two different issues. What a global corporation intends to do with the foreshore of our town is quite different to what we may think of the journalism scandal etc.

    I must admit, however, to riding a wave of general disapproval of News International and Murdoch. I hope I am alerting people to be aware of the enormousness of the Convoy's Wharf plans. The fact remains that this place could be a world heritage site based on its (presently hidden) history, and as such, could generate a tourist economy whilst preserving the history, and take the load off Greenwich rather than add to it.

    But these guys can't wait to add more concrete, Dubai stylee. It will be interesting to see what their 'cultural' offering is. Quite possibly it will be of the Disney kind, sitting on top of the real thing.

    Regarding journalism I am for the old fashioned whistle blowing school that requires only that someone somewhere has a conscience. Thus MPs' expenses were revealed not through phone and computer hacking – so you have no case at all, sir.

  3. Thanks for this insight. If anonymous is typical then the criminals have won already. Can't believe Lewisham hasn't insisted on a cultural/tourism only option, but don't know much about planning laws, and maybe these guys too big to fight.

    Interesting to note the timing of this exhibition – when everyone is away on holiday. Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it the day of the year when the highest proportion of the population are away (at vastly increased premiums)?

  4. I do wish people would stop with the whole 'anything would be an improvement round here' type of attitude and consider how best they could direct their efforts more productively. 'Anything' will NOT do - just because this is a deprived area which has a lot of land earmarked for development does not mean it deserves to be dumped on. Not only will a poor standard of development be detrimental to the area, it will also set a precedent for the many other developments that are happening around here and we will end up being surrounded by bad architecture, overloaded facilities, disjointed transportation, and no benefit whatsoever to local communities.