Ask Real Estate aims to create a £500m pipeline of commercial property development schemes throughout the Northern Powerhouse region following the sale of a majority stake in the business to Carillion plc, the UK’s leading integrated support services company.
The undisclosed investment by Carillion bought out the four founding shareholders of the Manchester-based property developer which was formed in 2000.
Ask Real Estate managing director John Hughes and finance director Jonathan Cross retain their executive roles and will be joined on the board of Ask by Simon Eastwood, managing director of Carillion’s developments business and Peter Forsyth, Carillion’s director of strategy and investment.
The investment builds on an existing joint venture between Ask, Carillion and Tristan Capital Partners that is delivering a two phase development at Embankment in Manchester City Centre.
The first phase comprises 101 Embankment, a 10-storey, 165,000 sq ft development of Grade A office space, retail and leisure units and 442-space multi-storey car park pre-let to Q-Park due for completion in July 2016.
The joint venture will also submit a planning application in February 2016 for the second phase of the scheme, an adjacent identical office building entitled 100 Embankment.
The newly-constituted board of Ask will work with Carillion Developments to identify and deliver commercial property development opportunities with a projected portfolio value of £500m over the next five years in major cities forming the spine of the Northern Powerhouse from Manchester in the North West to Yorkshire and the North East.
With a continued emphasis on Manchester, Ask is also extending its presence outside of the city region following its recent joint venture appointment with PATRIZIA UK Limited by Gateshead Council to deliver an 800,000 sq ft mixed-use scheme on the banks of the River Tyne at Gateshead Quays.
In May 2015 Ask sold its 20-acre First Street development in Manchester to PATRIZIA UK, a subsidiary of PATRIZIA Immobilien AG, the German listed European real estate investment company, while continuing to manage the development of the scheme.
Of the sale of the majority stake to Carillion, John Hughes said: “The Carillion investment into Ask Real Estate is a game changer for the business, presenting us with an exciting opportunity to marry our reputation for delivering high quality developments and spaces in urban centres with the expertise and financial resource of Carillion.
Richard Howson, chief executive of Carillion, said: “Carillion has established an excellent working relationship with Ask over many years and most recently on the Embankment project in Manchester and this investment will enable both businesses to build on that success at a time of exciting opportunities in the north of England.
“Carillion already has a strong presence in the region delivering prestigious projects in a number of places including Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds and this deal underlines our long-term commitment to the north.”
Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, explained: “The investment and backing by Carillion as a major UK plc in a Manchester property developer is a further boost to the economic growth of the Manchester city region.
“With pioneering developments such as First Street adding value and creating jobs, we expect Ask to continue to play a prominent role in the transformation of the city region and remains a key partner of the city council.”