ICBC investing in UK 'Airport City': Report

Updated: 2013-10-09 07:41

By Cecily Liu and Qiu Bo in London (China Daily)

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Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd will invest in a new 650 million pound ($1 billion) business district at Manchester airport, the Financial Times reported.

Known as Airport City, the project aims to build a business district covering about 60 hectares next to the airport so that international companies can open facilities there with easy access to other European cities, the newspaper said.

The project was proposed in January 2012. Since then, Manchester Airports Group Plc has been work to attract Chinese businesses to settle in Airport City, Chief Executive Charlie Cornish told China Daily earlier this year.

According to the Financial Times report, ICBC will provide loans to the developer and the construction company on the project. Chinese companies also would be guaranteed some of the contracts on the project, it said.

Manchester Airports declined to comment.

The Financial Times said British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will make a formal announcement of the deal during his upcoming visit to China.

Cornish previously told China Daily that Manchester Airports has sought to attract Chinese airlines to operate direct flights to China.

Although the airport can handle long-haul flights, attracting a Chinese airline to establish a direct flight to Manchester has been a challenge because Chinese investment in the United Kingdom is concentrated in London, he said.

"We believe there is enough density from the Manchester region to some cities in China, and we are sharing this information with Hainan Airlines and Air China, hoping they can establish direct flights from Hainan or Beijing to Manchester," Cornish said.

Cornish is also the chairman of a new forum to attract Chinese investment to the local area, as well as helping Manchester businesses to grow in China.

"The forum is very business-focused and targets just the Manchester region. Therefore we are not guided by the strategies or messages that the UK nationwide needs to have (when dealing with international businesses)," Cornish said. He said the Manchester-China Forum's work to attract Chinese investment will also help generate demand for direct flights between Manchester and China.

"If the forum is successful in facilitating more Chinese businesses to establish in Manchester and more Manchester businesses to establish in China, then there would be an increase in demand for direct flights. So it's all interlinked," Cornish said.

"This high-powered forum is a strong vehicle to help us connect with the massive economic growth China continues to generate, gaining the benefits our economy desperately needs. This is an ambitious step," Cornish said.

Built on land surrounding the airport, the park is designed to host multinationals that want to improve efficiency by reducing travel time.

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(China Daily 10/09/2013 page15)