Birmingham & Black Country

Which Birmingham landmarks could be sold to pay £1bn equal pay bill?

Birmingham landmarks

Birmingham City Council has confirmed it is selling off the NEC group to help fund equal pay claims totalling more than £1bn.

The authority has agreed settlements with thousands of workers, mainly women, who were paid less than their counterparts.

With the NEC group being marketed for sale, what else is in its portfolio that could fit the bill?

Birmingham NEC

Image copyright NEC Group
Image caption The NEC could be worth "as little as £300m", a finance expert has said

The Birmingham NEC, situated near junction six of the M42 motorway, is one of the biggest exhibition centres in Europe.

The venue, which opened in 1973, also houses the 16,000-seat LG Arena which hosts concerts and conventions.

Richard Taffler, professor of finance at Warwick Business School, said: "[Birmingham City] council hasn't released a financial appraisal and estimate yet, but it's likely the NEC is probably only worth £300m.

The "trouble" with valuing a venue such as the NEC, he added, is the "uncertainty of its future performance and the amount of investment needed to make it profitable".

"It is not especially cash-generative," he said.

International Convention Centre and National Indoor Arena

Image copyright The nec group
Image caption The International Convention Centre was opened in 1991

The £200m International Convention Centre (ICC) is a conference centre in Centenary Square in Birmingham city centre.

It is also home to the 2262-seat Symphony Hall which is run by the a registered charity, Performance Birmingham Ltd, and is used for concerts.

The National Indoor Arena is a multi-purpose concert venue on King Edwards Road, which opened in 1991.

Mr Taffler said a recent report by KPMG and the council said the NEC group, which includes the NEC, NIA and ICC supports about 30,000 jobs and creates £3bn a year for the local economy.

He said: "The council needs to ensure that these venues are not just sold off without a guarantee that they will continue to bring money into the West Midlands economy.

"It's not so much the money the council raises with an initial sale but it's the longer term interests that need to be considered."

Shares in Birmingham Airport

Image copyright bbc
Image caption The council has previously described shares in Birmingham Airport as "crown jewel assets"

Along with Wolverhampton Council, Coventry City Council and four other authorities in the Black Country, Birmingham City Council owns 49% of shares in Birmingham Airport Ltd.

The authority has always said the shares are "crown jewel assets" that would never be sold, but the news that the NEC could go could put the issue of airport shares back on the agenda.

The price for each individual share is currently £1.08

Mr Taffler said: "Selling a small part of a business, you tend to raise less than if you were selling the business as a whole because it's a minority interest.

"[The council] would have to carefully watch the market price."

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Image caption The museum had its funding cut by the city council for this year by £314,000

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in Chamberlain Square is run by Birmingham Museums Trust, which also manages eight other museums across the city.

The underlying buildings and collections remain the property of the authority.

The council provides 63% of the museum's funding but has reduced the amount it gives by £314,000 this year.

It could follow the lead of other councils, including Northampton Borough Council and Croydon Council, in selling off parts of their museum collections.

Sports and Leisure venues

Image copyright Action Images
Image caption The Alexander Stadium is part-funded by Sport England

The city council launched a consultation over the future of 45 leisure facilities last year, after it revealed running costs had exceeded the council's budget by about £7m.

The authority said the rising costs in energy bills, ageing facilities, and a reduction in paying customers had all contributed to problems with funding.

At the time, it said it was not reviewing sports centres of a competition standard - or those part funded by national bodies like Sport England, such as the Alexander Stadium.

It could possibly sell or contract out leisure centres for private firms to run as it has done with £11m Harborne Pool and Fitness Centre in Birmingham.

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