A team of international banks put their weight behind Belfast's massive CastleCourt today - signing a £40m deal to finance the shopping complex which opens in the heart of the city next Spring.
The Bank of Tokio led the team who signed the largest bank financing deal ever arranged for property development in the province.
It was joined by the National Bank of Australia, which owns the Northern Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Scotland, Bank of Ireland and the Ulster Bank.
At the signing ceremony in Belfast Mr Ernest Airey, joint managing director of John Laing Developments, said it was the best Christmas and New year present the city could have wished for.
Getting set for the switching-on of lights at a giant Christmas tree in the Royal Avenue centre, he said: "This commitment from the banks to Belfast's own shopping centre is a massive vote of confidence in it and a tremendous support for the people living in the city."
The total cost of the CastleCourt project which is due for completion in April is £76.5m and the Government is underwriting £10m of this.
Shaking hands on the £40m investment Mr Edward Yescomb, director of Bank of Tokio International Ltd said: "It is an excellent opportunity for us to be involved in a development which has already succeeded in demonstrating the strong retail market by securing major tenants."
Leading high street names have taken space in the 325,000 sq ft centre which also contains office and car parking space and has secured 1,800 jobs directly associated with the development.
Debenhams, making its first foray into Northern Ireland, will be the anchor tenant with a huge 90,000 sq ft department store.