Bruntwood has confirmed the acquisition of Alderley Park, AstraZeneca's 400-acre, global R&D site in Cheshire at an event at the Manchester stand this morning.
The commercial property company is acquiring the Cheshire site with its subsidiary Manchester Science Parks and Cheshire East Council.
Alderley Park contains 1.5m sq ft of offices and labs. Part of the site could be developed for residential, hotel or leisure uses.
Cheshire East Council is proposing to buy a 10% stake in the project and place a 3% investment in MSP.
Bids for the Alderley Park site were understood to have ranged from £30m to £50m. Bruntwood is said to have beaten Telereal Trilium, Discovery Park, backed by Palmer Capital, and residential developer Huntsmere.
Bruntwood joined the existing shareholders in MSP, Manchester City Council, The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University and Salford City Council in April 2012, as majority partner.
Chris Oglesby, chief executive of Bruntwood and chairman of MSP said: "The science and technology sectors are at the forefront of growth within the UK economy and in particular the Manchester city region. This is truly a unique opportunity and it was natural for us to build on our success at MSP. Our aim is to take one of the best invested sites in the world and build a sustainable business environment by linking the assets on the Manchester Corridor with Alderley Park.
"This doesn't signify a move away from our core business as a city centre office provider. Our business model has proven to be successful where we are able to create significant mass and concentration. Alderley Park allows us to replicate this model through its sheer scale and re-create an urban business community in a parkland environment. We have already seen demand for such sites with our recent outline planning consent to double the amount of space on offer at Booths Park in Knutsford."
Leader of Cheshire East Council, Cllr Michael Jones, said: "We look forward to working with MSP to ensure the Alderley Park bio-science hub becomes a powerhouse that leads the way, not just in Britain but globally – and delivers future-proof jobs, growth and innovative technologies for the North West and UK plc.
"I am pleased to work with my colleagues in Manchester and Salford City Councils, very excited to be working with the Manchester universities and like being cross-regional in approach. It shows London that the North West is getting its act together."
MSP currently operates from four sites: Oxford Road, Manchester; Technopark in Hulme, Salford Innovation Park and Central Park, Manchester. Bruntwood is currently on site with 100,000 sq ft of offices and labs at Citylabs, the former Royal Eye Hospital in Manchester. With the core campus nearly full, MSP said that it was working with architects BDP, on the completion of a masterplan that will see the Corridor site triple in size from 221,000 sq ft to 1.1m sq ft over the next 10 years.
JLL advised AstraZeneca.