Birmingham's reputation as an international business city has received a major boost with a record £150 million sale of a new office tower block - which is still under construction.
The 'blue chip' Colmore Plaza has been sold to the global private equity firm The Carlyle Group, in what is reputed to be the biggest investment deal for an office development in the city.
The property, on the site of the former Post and Mail tower, is scheduled for completion in early 2008. It was developed by Abstract Land Limited, a company set up in December 2004 by James Howarth and Mark Glatman.
The 14-storey structure in the central business district at the top of Colmore Row is expected to deliver 307,000 sq ft of prime high quality Grade A office space.
It will include flexible floor plates which can be sub-divided for up to four tenants per floor, 115 parking spaces and 15,000 sq ft of underground storage space.
The Carlyle Group is an international corporation with more than $44.3 billion (£23.3 billion) under management. It is believed to have already lined up some high-profile tenants willing to pay premium rates.
The sale was welcomed by the city's business community which said it highlighted Birmingham's development as a professional centre.
And Robert Hodges, managing director of The Carlyle Group, which has offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, said: "Colmore Plaza will offer the best office space in Birmingham.
"It will help to meet the increasing demand for new properties in the city and raise the profile of Birmingham as an attractive location for office users demanding modern office space meeting the highest standards of efficiency and environmental compliance.
"We believe Birmingham is growing in importance and attractiveness for both UK and international businesses.
"Colmore Plaza is an ambitious and exciting project, and will add to Birmingham's desirability as the city of choice outside the capital."
Mr Glatman, chief executive of the Abstract Group, said there had already been considerable interest in the development which he described as a "great product in the right place at the right time".
And Mr Howarth, of Abstract Land Ltd, said: "This deal further underlines Birmingham's renaissance as a city in which to do business and Colmore Plaza represents the highest specification building in any regional office market.
"This investment by The Carlyle Group is significant for Birmingham, further underpinning the city's status as a top international business location."
John Lamb, from the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the sale showed how the city was becoming better known for business rather than manufacturing.
He said: "From a business point of view, it is very good news for such a well-known and prestigious company to be coming into the city.
"This furthers the lines of Birmingham's growing importance as a financial centre.
"It is good news all around."
David Allen, head of investment at property consultancy NAI Fuller Peiser, said: "This is good news for Birmingham. It shows a great deal of confidence in the Birmingham office market.
"You would never write a cheque for that amount of money without doing your research first.
"The Carlyle Group are obviously confident that there are, firstly, tenants and, secondly, that there are tenants at that rental level."