Manchester United soccer-stars-turned-developers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs (pictured) have received a major cash boost from Chinese and Singaporean investors for an ambitious mixed-use property scheme in downtown Manchester, UK.
Located a stone’s throw from Manchester Town Hall, the St Michael’s project is touted as a "landmark" city-centre regeneration scheme featuring retail, office, residential and a five-star hotel.
Taking a majority 75% stake in St Michael’s is the listed Singaporean group Rowsley, controlled by billionaire Peter Lim.
We are excited to be in Manchester and to tap into its vibrancy and growth. Gary and his team exemplify the dynamism of the city and the City Council, and it’s a style of working we are very comfortable with in Singapore– Lock Wai, Rowsley CEO
In cash terms Rowlsley’s stake is £40m ($61.6m), which puts the total investment sought for the project at roughly £53.33m.
The second big investor is China’s Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG), which is taking a 21% stake, worth approximately £11.2m.
BCEG hit the headlines in the UK two years ago when it emerged that the state-owned company was investing in and helping to build the new, £800m Airport City scheme at Manchester Airport.
Famous footballers Giggs and Ryan, who turned their hands to property development after their soccer careers, are putting in a stake of 2% – calculated just over a million pounds – each.
Rowsley’s CEO Lock Wai Han said it was the company’s first investment in Europe, and that the choice of Manchester reflected the rising costs of London.
"We are excited to be in Manchester and to tap into its vibrancy and growth," he said. "Gary and his team exemplify the dynamism of the city and the City Council, and it’s a style of working we are very comfortable with in Singapore.
"St Michael’s will become a landmark development and will meet the growing demand for quality accommodation and offices in Manchester."
He added: "This will be Rowsley’s first investment in Europe and comes at a time when the UK government is encouraging businesses to move north to escape the rising cost of operating in London."
Rowsley estimated that St Michael’s would have a gross development value of £200m ($308m).
"This represents a very important milestone for the development of St Michael’s," said Gary Neville. "To secure funding for the project this early in the process is a fantastic achievement and demonstrates great confidence in the city.
"Moving swiftly is key and huge credit goes to Rowsley and BCEG for their committed approach in the last two months."