Friends Provident to Move London Base of Operations

Friends Provident intends to move its London base, according to an article published in The Daily Telegraph. The paper claims that the financial services group is close to signing a deal with Land Securities to shift location and secure new executive office space in One New Change, the £540million development which has only recently opened in the centre of London in October, and which covers around 560,000 square ft.

The article claims that Friends Provident is set to sign a deal that will see it securing fifty thousand square ft. of the available executive office space at the site, close to St Paul’s Cathedral. For the privilege, the paper claims Friends Provident will be paying around fifty-two pounds and fifty pence for each square foot it uses.

Analysts are in agreement that confidence in the Square Mile appears to be increasing, with more and more companies committing to new office space agreements and contracts, including British Land, which just last Friday revealed new plans for UBS headquarters in London that will cover 700,000 square ft. New skyscrapers being developed by British Land and Land Securities, which have already coined nicknames of Walkie Talker and the Cheese Grater, should be ready to take on tenants by 2014, just as a shortfall of commercial property to house executive office space is expected to become noticeable, following many leases that are due to expire around the same time.
Friends Provident currently has executive office space at 100 Wood Street, though has apparently been looking to expand ever since the company was taken over by Clive Cowdrey’s Resolution in 2009. The company declined to comment on the article published in The Telegraph, other than to say “We are looking for office space in London. No location is confirmed yet.” Land Securities likewise had nothing to comment on the paper’s claim when asked.

One New Change hosts 330,000 square feet of office space directly above what is also the city’s first shopping centre, which houses major retailers such as Topshop and various cafes and restaurants. The offices are set to open next year, with several clients already confirmed as tenants, including K & L Gates and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The shopping centre is already up and running, and is enjoying major retail success over the current Christmas period. Francis Salway, the chief executive of Land Securities, noted that last November alone, ten thousand shoppers walked through the centre every day on weekdays, and five thousand on weekends.

Other companies allegedly pursuing office space in One New Change include Lloyd’s Banking Group, although again no details have been forthcoming from either party, with Land Securities saying only that two deals, which together comprise of 87,000 square ft, are currently being negotiated by the solicitors of all the relevant parties.

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