Manchester, North West of … Beijing

The northern metropolis that Citigate Dewe Rogerson Manchester is proud to serve has caught the eye of investors from the East, with levels of investment from China on the up. Despite continued investment being put under pressure and increased scrutiny by Britain voting to leave the EU, the Northern Powerhouse has more than one rallying cry behind it and there are many, including Lord O’Neil, that wish to increase focus on foreign trade and investment as a matter of urgency.

The Northern Powerhouse has been dubbed George Osborne’s baby and a vital part of this project was his work leading trade missions to China, for example, but with Teresa May taking the reigns from David Cameron as Prime Minister, the longevity of his residence at 11 Downing Street remains to be seen.

What is vital for the city and the region is that the post-referendum government continues to push forward this agenda and encourage an increasingly close and prosperous relationship with China (amongst other foreign investors) who can help drive important projects that will continue to aid economic growth in the region. Manchester has had a long association with China – indeed the city’s China Town is the third largest in Europe – but Osborne’s focus on the North has stimulated renewed and major Chinese investment in the city.

In June, Hainan airlines took prime office space in Bridgewater House, a grade two listed building in central Manchester, supplementing the new direct route to Beijing announced by the Chinese airline from Manchester Airport. The Beijing Engineering Group is investing £800m into ‘Airport City’, Manchester Airport’s new business park which will have a ‘China Cluster’, an area set to lure further businesses from China to the area. Last December Manchester City’s holding company also received a £265m investment from a Chinese consortium that should see the club rapidly expand its presence in the Far East.

Residential property is also being snapped up by Chinese investors. Some for their children at university here – there are over 3,500 Chinese students currently at The University of Manchester – others simply because the Manchester property market offers a fantastic investment opportunity.

So why invest in Manchester?

Innovation – this is a word that we take very seriously here. The Northern Quarter is awash with digital start-ups, and the announcement of Cisco’s mi-Idea innovation centre is just the latest chapter of a city constantly striving for betterment.

Industry – where once this meant cotton mills and ship canals it now means professional services and technology. Citigate Manchester shares a building with BNY Mellon, Barclays and Investec, to name but a few big businesses with significant operations in the city.

Discovery – graphene is just the latest item Manchester has discovered that is destined to change the world. Other notable discoveries include Alan Turing’s development of modern day computing, the first railway line in 1830, and David Beckham’s right foot … but I digress.

Value for money – London has rightly claimed its place in the world as a truly international city, but with that a price tag that has given many investors pause for thought. For example, the hike in stamp duty has made London residential property prohibitively expensive for some investors. In Manchester, property in prime city centre locations (for the moment) remains comparatively affordable.

Manchester’s growing relationship with China is just one example of the city’s burgeoning success, but the continuation of these relationships will be vital to keeping up the momentum of recent years. Let’s hope that driving this kind of international investment will be a priority for Mrs May and her new government.

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