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Beijing Construction Plans $1.3 Billion Manchester Hub

Beijing Construction Engineering Group Co. formed a venture with Manchester Airports Group and other partners to build an international business district in the U.K.’s second-biggest city.

The buildings on the 150-acre (61-hectare) site in the north of England will be worth about 800 million pounds ($1.3 billion) when they’re completed and fully leased, the partners said in a statement today. Carillion Plc (CLLN) and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund are also part of the project, known as Airport City. It will create as many as 16,000 jobs and the development will be managed by Argent LLP, the group said.

Chinese developers including ABP Chinese (Holding) and Greenland Holding Group Co. are expanding overseas as the government maintains curbs on residential housing to cool price increases. ABP is involved in the development of a third financial district in London focused on Asian businesses after the U.K. and China set a target three years ago of doubling trade to $100 billion by 2015.

“Our aspiration as part of this international joint venture is to create a world-class business destination that will open up new connections on a global level,” David Partridge, managing partner at Argent (Property Development) Services LLP, said in the statement.

Direct Link

Manchester Airport, Britain’s busiest hub outside London, is used by more than 20 million passengers a year. The airport plans to open a direct airline service to China, according to the statement.

“We see our involvement in Airport City as an extension of the memorandum of understanding between China and the U.K., where we have been looking to further explore joint infrastructure opportunities for some time,” Xing Yan, managing director of Beijing Construction Engineering, said in the statement.

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said it is one of the country’s biggest developments since the Olympics, which were held in London last year.

“It shows our economic plan of doing more business with China and also making sure more economic activity in Britain happens outside the city of London is working,” he said in a television interview with Sky News from Beijing, where he’s on a trade mission with delegates including London Mayor Boris Johnson and representatives of U.K. technology companies.

Beijing Briefing

Guo Yanhong, vice general manager at BCEG said at a briefing with the chancellor in Beijing that the company will make an equity investment in the joint venture for the project of 12 million pounds.

During his visit Osborne will hold the fifth China-U.K. economic and financial dialogue with Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai to discuss the economy, trade and investment and financial management.

Britain is the most popular destination in Europe for Chinese investment, which last year jumped 95 percent in the nation, according to U.K. government data. China Investment Corp., the country’s sovereign wealth fund, took an 8.68 percent stake in Thames Water Utilities Ltd. in 2012 and also made a 450 million-pound investment in Heathrow Airport.

London is vying with Frankfurt, Paris and Zurich to become a trading hub for the Chinese currency. The Bank of England became the first European central bank to establish swap facilities with China, announcing a three-year 200 billion yuan ($33 billion) currency swap line in June to promote financial stability and trade.

Beijing Construction Engineering Group, which is controlled by the municipal government, provides engineering construction services, municipal public works and real-estate development, according to its website. Its projects include the National Library in Beijing, the Beijing International Capital Airport, and Line 1 of the Beijing subway.

To contact the reporter on this story: Neil Callanan in London at ncallanan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Blackman at ablackman@bloomberg.net

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