Last Friday BT appointed its new CEO, Philip Jansen. One of his first decisions was to put on hold the planned sale of the company’s historic headquarters, in order to review its place in BT’s push to save £1.5 billion.
BT’s headquarters, the BT Centre, sits at 81 Newgate Street across from St Paul’s Underground Station in the City of London and would provide would-be buyers with 273,000 square feet of office space. The 10-storey office building was completed in 1985 on the site where the Telegraph Office once sat – the location that Guglielmo Marconi made the first public transmission of wireless signals in 1897.
The telecommunications giants were looking for alternative headquarters in a number of different areas, but this search has also been placed on hold. Wood Wharf and International Quarter were both options, in East London’s Canary Wharf and Stratford respectively. 80 Fenchurch Street and One Braham were also both considerations, in the City of London.
Among a number of contenders to acquire BT’s HQ was Brookfield Property Partners. The company owns Canary Wharf in conjunction with Qatar Investment Authority after the two acquired 100% of Canary Wharf Group for £2.6 billion in 2015. Had they bought the property, part of the deal would have likely included new headquarter space in Canary Wharf for BT.
Another contender was a joint offer from Henderson Park and CORE. Henderson Park is a European real estate asset management platform and CORE are central London property development managers.
An unnamed bidder, reportedly close to securing a deal, confirmed the halt on proceedings: “We’ve been told it’s been put on hold. But that could be for a month, a year, or BT could cancel the sale completely”.
Back in 2001, BT sold and leased back a large portion of its property portfolio to Telereal for £2.4 billion. Despite this unloading of assets, the company held onto the BT Centre but last year BT’s then-owner, Gavin Patterson, announced that the property was up for sale in efforts to cut costs, as well as 13,000 jobs.