A lot to bring to the table

Updated: 2013-06-22 09:00

By Cecily Liu and Yang Yang (China Daily)

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At the same time, many European property funds are keenly eyeing China's construction projects, said Michelle Chen, director of China business at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, a law firm in the UK.

Many European funds have already invested in or are in the process of investing in China's residential, commercial and recreational properties, where the rate of return is attractive.

"This provides opportunities for international law firms such as BLP, as we can help European funds understand China's legal environment, and help them to structure a deal with techniques that can minimize their risks," Chen said.

Examples of risk can include the amount of time it takes for the investment to receive approval from China's National Development and Reform Commission and the likelihood of the investor receiving revenue from the investment, she said.

While European property funds' current focus is on commercial projects in China, the country's public sector infrastructure projects are also potentially attractive, said Ben Pape, a founding member of the UK-China Eco-Cities and Green Building Group.

Britain's model of public-private partnership in which private parties invest in public projects to relieve the government of funding constraints is a model that has been successful in the UK and one that China can learn from, Pape said.

"Currently, a lot of funding for infrastructure and urban development in China comes from municipal governments, which puts them heavily in debt to local banks. This trend could be changed by encouraging more private sector investment."

But Pape said a current challenge is the distorted expectations of municipal governments when they borrow from private sector investors both domestically and internationally.