Chinese construction giant backs £800m Airport City

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has signed a joint venture deal with a Chinese engineering business, UK support services company Carillion and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF) to accelerate the development of its £800m Airport City scheme.

Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG) and Carillion are to join with the GMPF for the scheme, while Argent has been selected as the development manager. The JV was confirmed by Chancellor George Osborne in Beijing.

Airport City will be the core element of the government-designated enterprise zone surrounding Manchester Airport, which is the UK’s third busiest. The five million sq ft project hopes to attract a raft of international businesses that could contribute an additional 16,000 jobs in the North West.

It will include offices, hotels, manufacturing space, logistics and warehousing.

MAG launched its search for JV partners at the end of last year, advised by CBRE and Eversheds.Outline planning permission for the project was secured at the start of 2013 and Osborne marked the official start on site at the end of May.

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.”

Xing Yan, managing director of BCEG, added: “To be included in such an interesting and unique development is a real honour. To be part of a project of this size and scale, working alongside other such highly regarded organisations, will be an exciting, challenging and rewarding opportunity, which we look forward to beginning.

“We see our involvement in Airport City as an extension of the memorandum of understanding between China and the UK, where we have been looking to further explore joint infrastructure opportunities for some time.”

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

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