First Street Boulevard

Morgan Stanley extends Ask facility beyond £40m

Manchester-based Ask Developments today announced that existing shareholder, Morgan Stanley Real Estate, has made a "further substantial capital injection" of £20m into the company, taking its total commitment to over £40m, "to facilitate the ongoing delivery of its expanding portfolio".

Morgan Stanley bought a 25% stake in Ask in 2006, and created the £300m Ask Investment Fund. It is understood that the latest tranche will be in the form of loan capital.

The statement from Ask issued today said: "This further investment will secure an immediate commitment to over 500,000 sq ft of commercial and retail floorspace unlocking an end value of over £175m from the schemes in Urmston and Bury town centres and the substantial first phase at Ask's flagship First Street project in Manchester city centre.

"At First Street, in addition to the new 180,000 sq ft Grade A office building now under construction, a £20m investment in further enabling works and public realm around that building will deliver the first 100 metres of the stunning 18-metre wide boulevard, together with a huge new public square immediately south of the building."

Ken Knott, founder and chief executive of Ask, added: "This is an important vote of confidence in the company in what are currently challenging economic conditions and it is testimony to the inherent quality of our portfolio and its capacity to deliver excellent returns. I am particularly excited at the eagerly anticipated commencement of our transformational vision for First Street which will deliver the most stunning place setting for any Grade A office building in the city centre."

No further details of any change in Morgan Stanley's stake were given.

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