MENA Changes Hands For £62M

Development Securities has won the bidding war to buy Manchester Evening News Arena for £62 million.

The new owner, which is thought to be working with U.S.-based backers, began talks to buy the building in February after an earlier deal with Threadneedle Property Investments collapsed.

The 21,000-seat venue located on an 8-acre site in Manchester city centre is one of the world’s biggest and busiest arenas. It was owned by GE Real Estate and Capital & Regional, which bought it from AEG for £61.7 million at the height of the property boom in July 2006.

The deal follows months of talks about the property, which also reportedly attracted the interest of other institutional investors including Legal & General, plus several private investors from the United States and the Middle East.

The complex, which includes offices and retail units, was built in 1995.

The deal marks the first major investment for Development Securities since it raised £100 million in new equity from investors last year. It had been focusing instead on smaller asset management and development deals.

“The Arena is an unusual asset. It’s unique and has a trophy status for buyers,” Christopher Jones of property agent Christopher Dee told the Manchester Evening News, the daily paper that holds the branding rights for the venue.

“The complexities of selling it made this deal challenging. We spent three days touring boardrooms making our offer to more than 20 of the big property funds, and we knew immediately that many were interested.”

SMG Europe, which has a long-term contract to run the venue, isn’t expected to be affected by it changing hands.