NORTHERN ROCK, the bank whose recent advertising campaign featured injured England player Michael Owen, has signed Taylor Woodrow to build its new headquarters.
Last week, the company pulled a series of advertisements featuring the World Cup striker after he damaged knee ligaments during England's game against Sweden.
One of the adverts prophetically asked: 'Can we have him back in one piece, please?' Owen is not expected to return to first-team action until next year.
The bank, which sponsors Owen's club team Newcastle United, has had a presence in the city since 1850.
At the heart of its new headquarters, which will be built at Gosforth on the outskirts of Newcastle upon Tyne, will be a 10-storey tower.
Taylor Woodrow, which earlier this month picked up a lucrative £75 million contract to build a distribution centre in Scotland for supermarket giant Tesco, beat Shepherd to bank the £35 million deal, while a third bidder, Sir Robert McAlpine, failed to make the cut several months ago.
Shepherd has been completing the initial enabling works at the site after the former 1960s office block was demolished.
This separate deal, worth close to £9 million, also includes work to extend an existing car park and is due to be wrapped up by the end of the year. Previous phases of work at the site were completed in 1986 and six years later.
A source close to the project said: 'Shepherd looked like early favourites because of the initial contract they won for Northern Rock.
'It's a very good win for Taylor Woodrow.' Designed by local firm Red Box Design, the scheme will also include a six-storey car park built alongside the new tower.
The development will provide 14,000 sq m of office space being overseen by project manager Gleeds.
Construction is set to start in August, with completion planned for January 2008.