Signalling a changing of the guard in London’s headiest property markets, Indian billionaire Ravi Ruia has bought the £113 million Hanover Lodge in Regent’s Park from Russia’s Andrey Goncharenko.
Among the highest prices ever paid for a London house, the transaction demonstrates that wealthy Indians are now serious rivals to the Russian and Middle Eastern buyers who have dominated upscale purchases in recent years.
The Ukraine conflict has wiped out much of the Russian interest (although Goncharenko is apparently not on the sanctions list). Fellow Russians such as Roman Abramovich, who owned Chelsea Football Club, and his associate Alexander Frolov, who owned a £15 million apartment in Knightsbridge, have beaten a hasty retreat.
More than £18 billion worth of Russian assets in the UK were seized following the invasion of Ukraine, along with at least 102 properties adding up to further billions.
With the international community turning its attention and favour to India, as it seeks to isolate Russia, London’s property agents are eagerly looking towards Mumbai and Delhi, anticipating a new wave of buyers for the vast stock of grand homes left by the Russians.
This newfound appetite for London real estate could herald a stream of investment in other British assets, as the prospect of a trade deal between India and the UK draws closer and Indian investors identify more opportunities. Indian PM Narendra Modi’s Make In India programme has spurred the country’s manufacturers and exporters into action.
Hanover Lodge spans 2,400 square meters of prime central London real estate, complete with a gym, sauna, gallery and swimming pool which can be converted into a ballroom. It was completed in 1827 and designed by John Nash, the architect of Buckingham Palace and other British gems, including Clarence House – also owned by the Royal Family – Marble Arch on the corner of Hyde Park, and the Brighton Pavilion.
For the Mumbai-based Ruia, whose Essar conglomerate spans steel, oil, gas, power, shipping and logistics, employs 7,000 people and turns over $13 billion a year, the purchase will provide a suitably grand location from which to entertain. Hanover Lodge once belonged to the French ambassador to Britain and later to Conservative peer Raj Kumar Bagri before he sold it to Goncharenko in 2012.
London is now home to more than a dozen billionaires of Indian heritage, including GP Hinduja, Lakshmi Mittal and Sri Prakash Lohia, each of whom has acquired vast mansions at the very top end of the scale. GP Hinduja paid £350 million for the Old War Office in Whitehall and then spent a further £900 million renovating the building and converting it into a sumptuous hotel and apartments, expected to have a price tag of £100 million each.
So Ruia will have no trouble locating friendly faces, with mansions just as fabulous as his.
Dinesh Dhamija founded, built and sold online travel agency ebookers, before serving as a Member of the European Parliament. His latest book, The Indian Century, will be published later this year.
Photo credit: Spdugun67 under Wikipedia Commons Licence 4.0