Beech to invest £130m in pipeline following Saudi deal

The residential developer intends to pump fresh capital into its Manchester pipeline and is in negotiations to acquire additional sites for development, after it secured financial backing from Saudi Arabia-based AIMS Investments.

Aims, part of the diversified conglomerate Aims Holdings, with interests spanning the real estate, industrial and other sectors, acquired a majority stake in Beech Holdings this week in an equity investment the size of which was not disclosed.

Under the deal, Beech founder Stephen Beech becomes chief executive of the business, now known as Beech Holdings Investments, and Aims directors Wasim Choudhury and Abdulaziz Albassam become board members.

The tie-up will enable Beech to execute delivery of the circa 1,000 apartments in its Manchester pipeline – with a gross development value of around £250m, it said – and expand its operations with further investments across the UK.

Stephen Beech told Place North West that negotiations were at an early stage, but sites have been identified for potential development in Manchester and also outside the region, in Sheffield, Leeds and Birmingham. No deals have yet been signed.

Under its Manchester Apartments brand, Beech has delivered the first phase of Westpoint, a 317-unit, 15-storey apartment scheme on Chester Road, Old Trafford, which completed in 2018.

The second phase of the project, comprising around 600 units, is currently in the pre-planning stage, with talks ongoing with Trafford Council.

Paul Butler Associates has been appointed as the planner and Beech Design and Build appointed as the architect. The aim is to submit a planning application to the council within the next six months.

This phase will be called the Urban Collective – a luxury co-living concept with high-end leisure facilities such as a swimming pool, yoga studios and other amenity space. “It will feel a bit like a David Lloyd gym,” Beech told Place North West.

The Manchester pipeline also includes 155 apartments under construction at Beech’s flagship Ancoats Gardens scheme, the core of which was completed in recent weeks.

The “super-premium” development will also feature a rooftop garden, co-working lounge, gym, coffee shop and other social areas, and is scheduled to complete in December 2021.

In addition, Beech is developing the final phase of two student accommodation blocks called Academy Apartments, comprising 90 units opposite the UA92 higher education campus, and 50 apartments in a former warehouse off Princess Street , which are nearing completion.

Beech has other, smaller assets at various stages of development across sites in Manchester including Duke Street and Minshull Street. It already has around 1,000 completed residential units in its portfolio, including 224 apartments across two blocks on Princess Street.

In 2019, Aims invested £40m in buying 163 of Beech’s completed apartments, and the equity investment was a “natural progression” of the firms’ existing relationship, according to Beech.

He said: “AIMS’ institutional expertise is very much welcomed and intrinsic to our shared strategy of accelerating growth across the UK. The partnership is a good indication of the strength of the UK property market and we will continue our mission together or providing professionals and students with a high standard of living.”

Albassam, who is chief executive of Aims Investments, added: “The acquisition of a strategic stake in Beech Holding underpins [our company’s] diversification plan and strategy to expand our footprint to other regional cities in the UK and growing our residential portfolio.”

Beech, which currently has around 50 employees, plans to recruit additional staff to execute its power its targeted expansion in the coming months, especially in the marketing, property management and lettings divisions.

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