China firm tees into a storm over London club

London has been cozying up to Beijing in recent years in the hope of attracting Chinese investment, but the city’s famed Wentworth golf club members are fuming over their new Chinese owner’s proposal to hike membership.
China firm tees into a storm over London club
The clubhouse at Wentworth Club overlooking the course

London

Beijing-based property and investment firm Reignwood Group, which bought Wentworth in 2014, has said it has massive expansion plans and would require members to pay 100,000 pounds ($146,000) to remain part of the club and has doubled maximum annual fees to 16,000 pounds. 
The dispute has caused diplomatic ripples, with interventions from Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who represents the local area in parliament, and from the Chinese embassy in London.
Reignwood had “established itself as a responsible investor in the UK”, and “the group has assured me that their plans for Wentworth Club will serve the long-term interest of its members and local community”.  — Jin Xu, China embassy official
Rough Course
  • Reignwood Group, China, buys Wentworth in 2014, which has 4,500 members including cricketer Kevin Peterson.
  • Proposes membership fee of 100,000 pounds from existing London members, and doubles annual fee to 16,000 pounds.
  • New owners plan to spend 20 million pounds in first year and 10 million in the next two, to improve facilities.
  • Has three 18-hole courses.
  • Members petition Chinese embassy.

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