WEALTHY Chinese investors are looking at spending billions of pounds on infrastructure projects in Yorkshire – including the electrification of the trans-Pennine rail link between Leeds and Manchester.
Representatives of a sovereign wealth fund, believed to be the $410bn China Investment Corporation, have met with officials from Leeds City Council to discuss opportunities in the region.
“It was a good conversation and we are hopeful it will lead to a follow-up,” said a source familiar with the situation. “We need to stop obsessing about Whitehall and look globally for investment.”
It is hoped that the talks will result in a memorandum of understanding between the local authority and the investors.
Fund managers have also spoken to officials from Manchester City Council, who are working with counterparts in Leeds to take control of the trans-Pennine rail link from the Department for Transport.
Improved communications between Leeds and Manchester could provide a significant boost to the economy of the North.
Yorkshire already has reasonably strong links with China, through regional businesses establishing operations or markets in the Far East and trade delegations.
Officials in Leeds are hoping to capitalise on these links to find new ways to bring investment into the city and surrounding region.
Last month, Lou Jiwei, chairman of the China Investment Corporation, said his sovereign wealth fund wanted to team up with fund managers or enter public-private partnerships to make equity investments in UK infrastructure.
This means that the fund would have some ownership rights on assets like railways, roads, ports and social housing.