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Financial occupiers remain active in Central London

The banking and finance sector has maintained leasing momentum throughout 2018 in the City of London.

There is currently in excess of 3.1 million sq ft of active requirements, the highest total since 2015, demonstrating the continued importance of the financial sector to the capital. 

Jeremy Attfield, JLL UK

We have seen a number of finance and banking businesses reaffirm their position and commitment to London over the last 12 months despite concerns with the uncertainty around Brexit.

Across the Central London markets, occupiers from this sector acquired over 1.8 million sq ft in 2018. There is currently in excess of 3.1 million sq ft of active requirements, the highest total since 2015, demonstrating the continued importance of the financial sector to the capital.  This demand is driven in part by lease events and a desire to consolidate operations plus the need to create working environments that attract and retain the best talent.

Pre-leasing has been particularly active, underlining long-term commitment to London’s key commercial districts. 

City activity

One of the key deals in the sector in 2018 in which JLL advised the landlord, was the pre-completion letting of Beltane and Angelo Gordon’s 55 Gresham Street, EC2, to Investec Asset Management. The investment management company agreed to acquire the new 120,000 sq ft Grade A development in its entirety. This relocation was indicative of the firm’s commitment to serving an ever-expanding international client base.

The world’s largest interdeal broker TP ICAP also committed to two new London offices in both the West End and the City.  JLL advised on both pre-lets. The company agreed to acquire 34,000 sq ft in Verde, W1, consolidating from three West End offices and 125,000 sq ft at British Land’s 135 Bishopsgate, EC2, for its new European headquarters.

In addition, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe Limited, one of Japan’s leading banks, was the first tenant to commit to 100 Liverpool Street, EC2 acquiring 161,000 sq ft on the lower floors of the building.  Again, JLL advised in this major pre-let for the Broadgate campus.

West End activity

2018 saw significant financial activity in the West End with notable transactions including KKR pre-letting 57,000 sq ft at 18-19 Hanover Square, W1.  This was the largest pre-let in Mayfair since Lazard took c.70,000 sq ft at 50 Stratton Street in 2002.  The rental level achieved was significantly ahead of our ‘prime’ West End levels.

Advising SETE, following a comprehensive refurbishment of trophy Mayfair asset 5 Savile Row, W1, JLL advised in the disposal of 21,000 sq ft over four floors to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. 

Fintech

London is being hailed as the global centre for Fintech and we are seeing investment in this sector growing faster than anywhere else in the world.  By way of example, NEX instructed JLL to search for a new headquarters aligned with the company’s new branding and repositioning.  This lead to the identification and securing of 120,000 sq ft in The London Fruit & Wool Exchange, E1. The development met NEX’s brief, being located in a technology and commercial hub of London and they will be in occupation of this technologically advanced workspace from Q2 2019.

Looking forward

We expect that this sector will remain particularly buoyant in 2019, accounting for 40% of City demand, with over 2.5 million sq ft of current active requirements. This includes established London occupiers, driven by lease event and consolidation, such as EBRD, Bank of New York Mellon and The Northern Trust, expansion driven requirements from Brewin Dolphin, Smith & Williamson as well as requirements from more recent entrants, including Funding Circle and Coinbase.

This article was written by Jeremy Attfield