Global partners selected for Manchester’s Airport City

Posted on 14 Oct 2013 by Callum Bentley

Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG) has been announced as one of a number of international partners included in a joint venture agreement for the new Manchester Airport CIty.

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) announced the joint venture agreement with the chinese company, alongside Carillion PLC and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) in relation to the development of the £800 million Airport City project at Manchester Airport. Argent has been appointed by the joint venture as development manager for the scheme.

Airport City will be the core element of the Government-designated Enterprise Zone surrounding the UK’s third busiest airport, Manchester. The objective of siting the zone around Manchester Airport alongside supporting sites in South Manchester was to help attract international businesses that could contribute an additional 16,000 jobs in the North West of England.

Outline planning permission for Airport City was secured at the start of 2013 and the Chancellor, George Osborne, marked the official start on site at the end of May. It will provide 5 million sq ft of development, a mix of offices, hotels, advanced manufacturing, logistics and warehousing.

MAG launched its search for joint venture partners at the end of 2012, advised by CBRE and Eversheds. The aim of the international search for investors was to secure partners who could bring global development expertise, alongside access to international occupiers and financing capabilities, which would support MAG’s land ownership and experience in airport developments.

Charlie Cornish, Chief Executive of MAG, said: “We are delighted to confirm organisations of global standing as our joint venture partners. The inclusion of BCEG is significant because as a group, we have been keen to forge greater links with the Far East and this gives us an opportunity to strengthen vital business links with China. With GMPF on board, Greater Manchester is investing in the future of the North West and Carillion bring sector-leading experience in project finance, delivery and sustainability, both in the UK and internationally. In Argent, we have one of the most renowned developers in its field and by working together as a partnership, we are well positioned to deliver the UK’s first Airport City.”

Airport City is expected to be one of the largest regeneration schemes in the UK since the Olympics redevelopment in East London, hence the need for a strong group of partners. Airport City will compete with existing projects outside the UK including those on the airport sites of Barcelona and Amsterdam. Manchester Airport is currently used by over 20 million passengers annually, and has flights to more than 200 global destinations. Over 6.5 million people (8% of the UK population) live in Manchester and the North West area, accounting for 11% of UK GDP.

MAG has been actively looking to the Far East for a direct airline service between Manchester and China in the last year and MAG’s Chief Executive, Charlie Cornish, is the chair of the Manchester-China Forum, a new business-led initiative aimed at increasing Greater Manchester’s commercial connectivity with China.

In 2012, the UK and China set a target of growing bilateral trade to $100bn by 2015 when Chinese investment into the UK stood at around $8bn at that time. The Airport City deal presents one of the biggest joint venture investments into the UK.