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LEADING CITY LAWYER FINDS THAT ‘BREXIT’ IS NO LONGER THE WORD ON EVERYONE’S LIPS IN SINGAPORE

A leading City solicitor has said that ‘Brexit’ is no longer the word on everyone’s lips as he returned to Singapore for his second visit to the prosperous city-state since the UK’s vote to the leave the EU in June 2016.

Rufus Ballaster, a Partner and Head of Property at City of London law firm, Carter Lemon Camerons LLP, last visited Singapore at the end of June 2016 in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, meeting with more than 30 Singapore-based bankers and a number of other clients and contacts.

Rufus Ballaster
Rufus Ballaster

At the time, Rufus said: “What has fascinated me this week is the way that people out in Singapore look at what is uncharted territory – a member state leaving the EU – and they see not only disruption and uncertainty but also the very real potential for smart investment in the UK right now.”

He has now returned to Singapore for further meetings with bankers and other clients and contacts, with a view to encouraging them to invest in the UK property market.

“In terms of attitude and appetite, ‘Brexit’ is not on everyone’s lips out here,” said Rufus.

Instead, he suggested that UK Inheritance Tax (IHT) changes related to offshore corporate ownership structures is more of a live issue amongst prospect investors, as is the belief that sterling will strengthen in the coming years.

Rufus added: “The post-referendum currency crash led to an increased appetite to purchase UK property on the part of wealthy people from South East Asia, but that heightened appetite has now drifted away.  We seem to be back at ‘business as usual’ out here today.”

However, he suggested that the Brexit decision has had an effect given that EU membership boosted the UK’s attractiveness in the eyes of investors. International expectation of a Remain outcome pumped Sterling to a level much higher than today and produced feverish appetite for property purchases by non-UK based investors.

Rufus observed that the UK property market is probably back to where it was two or three years ago in terms of its attractiveness to investors from South East Asia.

“That,” Rufus said “might well be no bad thing for the UK.”