Chinese investor seizes Nigerian govt properties in UK

Leadership | 24 June 2024

Chinese investor seizes Nigerian govt properties in UK

by Innocent Odoh

Two Nigerian properties located in the United Kingdom are on the verge of being taken over by a Chinese investor following an order granting the investor the right to enforce a $70 million investment treaty award against Nigeria.

The investor, Zhongshan Fucheng Industrial Investment, was granted final charging orders over two UK residential properties owned by the Nigerian government after the company also attached a £20 million debt relating to the high-profile P&ID case.

The Chinese firm secured this order on June 14 when Master Sullivan in the Commercial Court in London granted the orders in respect of two Liverpool properties estimated to be worth a combined £1.7 million.

According to the judge, the order was premised on the fact that the properties have been converted to commercial use outside Nigeria’s diplomatic or consular activities in the UK, stressing that enforcement of the order should prevail.

The high profile case was a gritty legal battle between Zhongshan represented before the court by Withers and barristers at 3VB, while Nigeria was represented by Squire Patton Boggs and a barrister at Atkin Chambers.

Sources said the underlying arbitration was in relation to a joint venture with Nigeria’s Ogun State to establish a free trade zone near Lagos in 2013. A Zhongshan subsidiary held a 60% stake in the project but Ogun terminated its participation three years later.

In 2021, a London-seated UNCITRAL tribunal chaired by Lord Neuberger including Matthew Gearing KC and Rotimi Oguneso SAN said Nigeria was guilty of expropriation and other breaches of the China-Nigeria bilateral investment treaty and ordered the country to to pay US$55.6 million plus interest and costs.

source: Leadership