Funding secured for £140m LTE Group estates transformation

LTE Group has signed the final piece of its multi-partner funding agreement, on behalf of The Manchester College and UCEN Manchester, allowing a £140m campus transformation project to go ahead.

The Openshaw-based group will now press ahead with its plans to transform its further and higher education estate, which includes the build of a brand new centre of excellence for the creative and digital industries in Manchester city centre, and the regeneration of its Openshaw Campus.

Planning permission for both was secured from Manchester City Council last year.

John Thornhill, LTE Group’s chief executive, said: “Our £140m investment into the region’s future generations will transform education and skills, benefiting one million Mancunians over the course of its lifetime.”

The deal marks the official start of one of the largest co-created and co-funded projects the sector has ever seen, in what is a funding collaboration between the LTE Group, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership and Manchester City Council, alongside commercial backing from Santander.

John said: “This is one of a series of investments the group is making to support local industrial strategies, inclusive growth and local communities, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of our much-valued partners.

“Our plans are a key part of Manchester’s future, equipping people of all ages and backgrounds to access skilled job opportunities in key growth sectors.”

Cllr Luthfur Rahman, executive member for culture, leisure and skills, Manchester City Council, said: “The Manchester College – working closely with employers in the city – has a hugely important role to play in enabling local people from Manchester and Greater Manchester gain the skills and work experience they need to equip them for the jobs which are being created.

“This is especially true in some of the fastest-growing industries such as creative and digital, and business financial and professional services, and it’s great that the new City Centre Campus will be a centre of excellence for vocational training for these sectors.

“This will make a major contribution to our work and skills strategy which seeks to support relevant education and training that connects Manchester people with the opportunities available through our growing economy.

“It’s also, of course, great to know that a site which once housed an iconic part of Manchester’s past, the Boddington’s Brewery, will make such an important contribution to its future.”

Gareth Jones, sector head, education at Santander, said: “Santander are delighted to be chosen as the group’s strategic banking partner moving forward.

“This is an exciting time for the group and we are proud to play a part in the transformation of their education facilities, to further enhance the delivery of vocational and technical skills across Greater Manchester.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) debt advisory team, Richard Siddall, Dominic Renshaw and Emma Lister, supported LTE Group in assessing the most appropriate financing structure for the development and ran a competitive funding process, resulting in the group securing new development and working capital facilities, and refinancing existing term loans.

The Addleshaw Goddard finance team – Richard Chandler, Jess Burgess, Emma Johnston and Martin O’Shea – advised the group on the debt aspects of their new facilities.

PwC partner, Richard Siddall, said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to support LTE Group with securing the funding for this milestone development project.

“The level of investment in this project is significant and will have such a positive impact, not just in terms of the provision of future education needs, but also in support of Manchester’s growth aspirations as a city.”

Martin O’Shea, partner at Addleshaw Goddard, said: “We are delighted to work with the group, college and UCEN Manchester on what is no doubt a landmark development for the city of Manchester. Addleshaw Goddard is proud of its Manchester heritage and in being able to support its continuing success.”

The Manchester College and UCEN Manchester students will experience state-of-the art facilities, industry-relevant education and training, active partnerships with employers, work placements and supportive learning environments tailored to their needs.

Mo Isap, co-chair and lead on education and future skills for the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Investment in our FE infrastructure is integral to ensuring we meet the needs of our dynamic future economy.

“Our city region is now a global hub for world-class businesses seeking to base in the UK and we are committed to ensuring we lead the UK in having the most skilled and diverse talent.”