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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Asian investor takes large stake in Stafford land

A high-roller has emerged among the Asian investors buying shares in the Sherwood Forest Farm property in southern Stafford County. Walton International Group, which bought the remainder of the 884-acre property along State Route 3 from the Silver Cos. earlier this week, has been selling shares of the northern part of the property for the past several months to investors in Singapore and Hong Kong. Click here for a past article on this.

Walton broke the 355-acre northern part of the property into 1,933 shares, each going for $10,000 (Walton paid $3.55 million for the parcel so would gross more than five times its money if all the shares are sold; the firm says the premium covers expenses leading to development). Investors can buy undivided interests in the land in a tenants-in-common arrangement.

The offering has apparently met with solid demand, as evidenced by hundreds of deeds rolling in to the land records division of Stafford Circuit Court. Most of the investors have been buying one or two shares. Prior to last month, the largest recorded investment was 12 shares for $120,000.

Last month an investor named Man Fai Tai bought 50 shares of the property for a total of $500,000, making him the leading investor thus far. Google turns up several references to an investment company with that name in Singapore, but I have no idea if they’re related. The deed included very little information about the investor.

Court staff say the incoming deeds have now slowed to a trickle, indicating that perhaps Walton is done selling shares in the northern parcel. It’s believed that the company will do the same for the other two parcels it’s bought in that area, but the company isn’t commenting — citing its inability to do so due to U.S. securities law.