Chinese citizen Chen Tianqiao, who made his fortune from online gaming, has become the second largest foreign owner of agricultural land in the United States. The League writes about this with a link to Bloomberg.
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Chen owns 80,127 hectares of forest land in Oregon. Only the Irving family from Canada has more land owned in the United States among non-American citizens – 480,000 hectares.
Chen's name became known only after the beneficiaries were disclosed by the Oregon tax authorities.
It turned out that a billionaire from China bought the land in 2015 from Fidelity National Financial Ventures for $85 million. The buyer was Shanda Asset Management, Chen's Singapore holding group.
Chen founded the online gaming company Shanda Interactive in 1999 . Five years later, it became one of China's largest Internet companies and was listed on Nasdaq in the United States. Chen took the company private in 2012 and moved the headquarters of his holding group from China to Singapore.
Foreign ownership of land in the United States, especially land used for agriculture, has become a sensitive political issue in recent years, the agency notes.
According to the latest data from the Department of Agriculture, as of 2021, about 10 million hectares of agricultural land in the United States belonged to non-American owners. Enterprises from China owned 0.03% of all US farmland.
Some lawmakers are pushing to adopt national rules to limit foreign investment in American agricultural property. Last July, the Senate voted to ban sales of farmland over a certain area or value to people or businesses from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. But this bill was not signed into law.
In recent years, super-wealthy investors have increasingly been buying up other rural properties in addition to farmland. According to the Department of Agriculture, the average value of arable land in the United States jumped 8.1% last year and has risen by more than a third since 2020.
The rise is driven by demand for food and high inflation, as well as interest to rare properties such as classic Western ranches that offer relaxation as well as the potential for a return on investment.
The largest landowner in the United States is the Emmerson family, which owns the lumber empire Sierra Pacific Industries. They are followed by billionaires John Malone, Ted Turner and Stan Kroenke.