UK-CHINA - A former Watson Wyatt pensions adviser is a key member of a team seeking a London stock exchange listing for a Chinese real estate company.

Stuart Leckie, former chairman of Watson Wyatt in Asia and founding chairman of the Hong Kong Retirement Schemes Association, has been named today as deputy chairman of China Real Estate Opportunities Limited – a new company seeking an Alternative Investment Market (AIM) listing and which will invest in Asian properties.

According to the announcement, CREO is a Jersey-based real estate company hoping to raise £260m on AIM so it can acquire investment and development properties and "achieve capital growth from a portfolio of properties in China".

More specifically, the firm will initially focus on large scale developments in the office, logistics and retail markets.

At this stage, the company is contracted to acquire three retail and office properties in Shanghai – one of which has three development phases – a development site in Qingdao where the sailing events of the 2008 Olympics are being staged and another to develop office space in Beijing.

All of the directors behind the company have previous experience in the real estate and financial services market, but the most notable is Leckie who has written books on investments and pensions in China and Hong Kong, and was previously chairman of Fidelity Investments Asia-Pacific as well as advising the Chinese government on pensions reform and sitting on various committees at Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission.

Ray Horney, chairman of CREO, who has also been chairman of Real Estate Opportunities Ltd since 2001, says the company’s priority is to gain its listing on AIM and attract investors from the institutional market, including European pension funds.

"We are interested in a wide spread of institutional investors along with receiving investments from staff and directors," said Horney.

CREO as it has no official track record in this market so there are no plans at present to convert the company to a Reit, said Horney.

That said, several of its staff have been established in China for four years and the company expects to have over 75 representatives in China by the end of the year.