Chinese investors have hit the phones after learning of Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma's decision to buy Château de Sours - eager to follow in his footsteps in Bordeaux, according to one estate agent.
News that Alibaba founder Jack Ma has bought Château de Sours prompted a flurry of calls on Thursday 25 February – from Chinese investors wishing to follow his lead, and from Bordeaux château owners wondering whether Ma wanted to buy anything else.
‘I already received several calls from my Chinese clients,’ LI Lijuan, China marketing director of Maxwell-Storrie-Baynes, the exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Rael Estate, told DecanterChina.com.
‘[Some of them] came to view châteaux one or two years ago but didn’t buy at the end. Now they have come back to ask if they can buy.’
Ma is the second richest person in China with a personal fortune of US$21.5bn, according to Forbes. He plans to build a ‘mini Versailles’ palace at Château de Sours, according to one source close to the deal.
A price for Château de Sours, previously owned by Martin Krajewski, was not disclosed. However, Decanter.com has been told that it more than covers all of Krajewski’s previous investments in the estate.
A spokesperson for Bordeaux’s wine council (CIVB) said that it did not have a precise figure for the number of châteaux now owned by Chinese investors in the region.
France’s Sud Ouest newspaper reported this week that the number was around 120.
‘What Jack Ma brings to Bordeaux, at the beginning of the [Chinese] Year of the Monkey, is almost a guarantee for financial profit,’ LI Lijuan said. ‘Chinese people like to follow the mainstream to buy things.’
She added that some Bordeaux estate owners have contacted her to ask if Ma wants to buy any more wineries.
There is also talk of whether Ma would make a move for a cru classé estate, but this appeared to be pure conjecture for the time being.
Most Chinese investors in Bordeaux have so far chosen to buy estates in so-called lesser appellations.
‘For the Chinese, it’s not about whether they can afford it, it’s more about if they think it’s worth it,’ said LI Lijuan.
Extra reporting by Sylvia Wu, editor of DecanterChina.com