Former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy plans to raise $750m to launch his Chinese shopping centre venture.

Leahy revealed he is targeting China’s second cities with the malls which will be of an “international standard”, The Telegraph reported.

Leahy has partnered former Tesco China property chief executive Paul Mercer to develop the malls. The investment fund behind the venture expects to close its first round in May.

He said: “We are raising a fund to build shopping centres in what is called the tier two cities. That is not the top four cities but these are still huge cities, they have to 10m people.

“It is part of the burgeoning consumer population in China. There is an undersupply of modern, international standard shopping malls.”

Since leaving Tesco 12 months ago, Leahy has also built a portfolio of personal investments in small UK internet companies and revealed in October he was considering the Chinese investment.

Leahy backed Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke to turnaround the grocer’s fortunes.

He said: “Philip is the man doing the job. He needs to call it as he sees it. The reasons for the profit warning were to invest in the business to give it extra momentum as we come into recovery. That is very sensible thing,” he said.

“When you go through a recession you tend to baton down the hatches and when you come into recovery you can invest ahead of growth. We did that in the early 1990s very successfully and I can see why he has done it today.”