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Chinese group in $1.2 bn British airport development deal
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Oct 13, 2013

Chinese construction giant Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG) has signed a deal with British firms to develop a business district around Manchester airport, the companies involved in the project announced Sunday.

The development of Britain's third busiest airport -- described as one of the largest construction projects in the United Kingdom since the 2012 London Olympics -- will cost 800 million pounds ($1.27 billion).

MAG, the operator of Manchester airport; GMPF, a pension fund based in the city; and the British construction group Carillion will work alongside BCEG in the joint project, a statement released by the companies said.

A breakdown of each company's investment in the business district, dubbed "Airport City", was not given in the statement.

British finance minister George Osborne, who is currently on a trip to China hoping to boost trade ties between the two nations, wrote on his verified Twitter account that the development is "one of the largest" in Britain since the Olympics, and would eventually create 16,000 jobs for the region.

The deal comes at a time when Britain is seeking to bolster trade with the world's second largest economy, with both nations agreeing in 2010 to double their trade to $100 billion by 2015.

London mayor Boris Johnson was also in Beijing Sunday in what Chinese state media said was a "campaign to lure Chinese sovereign funds, banks and developers to fund an overhaul of the British capital in the years to come".

"Our mayor's interest is about new infrastructure," a member of the delegation was quoted by state news agency Xinhua as saying. "The mayor identified 33 areas across the city where we will be intensifying the density of (housing) and putting in new infrastructure."

Kit Malthouse, the London deputy mayor for business, told Xinhua that London officials were hoping to attract "lots and lots of capital" to help the city deal with population growth.

Chinese investment in Britain rose to $4 billion in 2012, up 80 percent from a year ago, Xinhua reported.

Deals such as that struck over Manchester's Airport City are seen 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," Xing Yan, Managing Director of BCEG, said in the statement announcing the agreement.

Charlie Cornish, Chief Executive of MAG, added: "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."

Once built, "Airport City" will take up five million square feet (460,000 square metres) and will boast a mix of offices, hotels, advanced manufacturing firms, logistics and warehousing, the companies' statement said.

Manchester Airport is currently used by over 20 million passengers annually. The city and surrounding northwest region contains 6.5 million people, eight percent of the UK's population.

Earlier this month, a Chinese investment firm announced plans to resurrect London's Crystal Palace, once the largest glass structure in the world and the venue for the 1851 Great Exhibition, in a deal worth $800 million.


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