A Chinese investment firm is to invest £1bn to turn London's Docklands into the UK's 'third financial district’

A Chinese investment firm has announced it is to invest £1bn in a homegrown development project to create a third financial district in east London.

China Minsheng Investment Corp Ltd, the country’s largest private investment firm, will join Chinese developer Advanced Business Park (ABP) on the project that is looking to transform the historic Royal Albert Dock into a business and finance hub to rival Canary Wharf and the City of London.

The scheme is one of the largest Chinese investments in the UK in recent years. It will act as a gateway for the nation’s firms seeking to invest overseas.

“The investment is a strategically important beginning for our exploration in the European market,” Li Huaizhen, Minsheng’s CEO, said in Shanghai. “We will work with global companies to bolster Chinese firms’ global drive.

Minsheng is to become the majority investor in the Royal Albert Dock refurbishment, a project unveiled in 2013 by ABP and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

With its close proximity to London City Airport, the plan is to develop the vacant, 35-acre site into a financial district by 2017, including shops, leisure facilities and office space.

The redevelopment of the dock aims to add 20,000 jobs and £6bn to the UK economy, although there has been scepticism over the project due to its ambition and high cost.

It is the first major overseas investment by Minsheng, a fund established last August by 59 private Chinese companies with a capital of 50 billion yuan (£5.2bn).

The former chairman of the state-owned Minsheng Bank Corp, Dong Wenbiao, heads the fund, though the investment firm claims no formal relationship with the bank or the Chinese government.