Report questions about Manchester, City and Manchester City links

MANCHESTER, England – In the 14 years since an Abu Dhabi-linked investment vehicle bought Manchester City, the emirate’s wealth has tran...


MANCHESTER, England – In the 14 years since an Abu Dhabi-linked investment vehicle bought Manchester City, the emirate’s wealth has transformed the football club from a Premier League also ran into a serial national champion and one of the sport’s global powerhouses. .

The scale of this investment, however, extends far beyond the confines of the club’s Etihad Stadium, according to a report released Thursday by researchers in England. In it, the report’s authors said the club’s owners had benefited from what they called a “soft deal” with local lawmakers that allowed them to buy large swathes of public land in Manchester from dramatically reduced prices.

The 65-page report, published by academics from the University of Sheffield, found that Manchester lifea development joint venture between Manchester City Council and Abu Dhabi United Group – a private equity firm owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and brother of the country’s president – has resulted in a “transfer of public wealth into private hands difficult to justify as prudent”.

A Manchester City Council spokesperson disputed the report’s findings in a statement.

“The land was appraised by independent experts, using the nationally accepted ‘red book’ valuation benchmark, and we achieved the best possible overall agreement for each site at a time when there was very little market interest in the region,” the city’s statement read. , adding: “These have always been seen as longer-term arrangements – the Council is expected to receive many millions of pounds this financial year from the first such payments.”

Manchester has been touted in recent years as a flagship for the regeneration of British cities, revising years of post-industrial decline to redefine its city center as vibrant and desirable. Its building and real estate boom was surpassed only by London; by some measure it is England fastest growing city.

The Manchester City ownership group has been in the center of it, investing millions of dollars in deprived areas in the immediate vicinity of the stadium which bears the name of the United Arab Emirates’ state-supported airline, Etihad. When the Manchester Life venture was launched in 2014, six years after the group bought the football team, it was designed to extend that investment to Ancoats, an area sandwiched between the stadium and the city center from Manchester.

The researchers say, however, that the ADUG is doing rather better than its partner. They found that nine sites in the Ancoats district had been sold to holding companies registered in the offshore tax haven of Jersey – but ultimately owned by the investment vehicle – at prices below the comparable market value of similar sites .

Manchester City Council insisted that each of the deals – which gave United Group holding companies leases on the properties spanning 999 years – told researchers that all proposals were “given the best consideration”. Yet despite a chronic problem of homelessness in the city, developers were excused from meeting their commitments to include affordable housing by planning officers who decreed that there was enough supply in the city. region to meet demand, according to the report.

The report also concluded that the “traceable rental and sales revenue streams” from the 1,468 homes built on the sites so far “goes solely to the interests of Abu Dhabi”. Although Manchester City Council claims to have a revenue-sharing agreement with its partners, researchers said they found “no income from Manchester Life’s investment in the council’s accounts”.

Although the management company overseeing the developments recorded £10.1 million in rental income in 2021 (just over $12 million), researchers found that because its ultimate owner is a holding company based in Jersey, she only paid £4,000 in corporation tax.

“Our assessment of the development of Manchester Life is that Manchester City Council ‘sold the family silverware too cheap'”, the researchers concluded.

This is particularly damaging, they said, in light of the “reputational risks” for lawmakers in a British city becoming sufficiently embroiled in a group backed by the elite of an autocratic state, described by Amnesty International as the one of the “most brutal police states in the Middle East”. In recent years, countries like Russia, China, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have all been accused of using money and influence, especially in sport, to “cleanse” their reputations. But investments in property and other companiesand the people who allow them, also have meticulous examination.

“Longer term, it raises questions about the values ​​and values ​​that the city represents,” the researchers wrote of the land deals approved by Manchester council, adding: “It matters because Manchester is announced as a model of urban regeneration which other authorities should follow, but if this model is built to attract short-term developers by selling access to its assets at a discount, then it may not be a model strong and durable for others.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Report questions about Manchester, City and Manchester City links
Report questions about Manchester, City and Manchester City links
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