Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has sold and leased back their new London headquarters in a deal with Korea’s National Pension Service. The transaction valued Plumtree Court at £1.16 billion, making it the biggest deal for a London office building this year.
The investment bank has agreed to lease back the building for 25 years. This means that Goldman Sachs are committing to the UK capital for the relative long-term, even amidst ongoing worries around Britain’s departure from the EU.
After last year’s sale of the “Walkie-Talkie” skyscraper for £1.3 billion to Hong Kong Investors, this is the second biggest deal ever announced in London for an office building.
The 10-storey building is expected to be ready for employees to move in by the middle of next year. Goldman Sachs plan to move in 8,000 workers into the 826,000 square feet office building, which they developed themselves. The new headquarters are located in The City, London’s financial district. The enormous building has 13 football fields worth of space to fill and will include a fitness centre, on-site health services and childcare facilities.
Last year, whilst the building was still under construction, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs tweeted “expecting/hoping to fill it up but so much outside our control #Brexit”.
Banks’ approaches to their London real estate have been under scrutiny since Britain voted to leave the European Union, but this long-term lease indicates a confidence in the capital from the investment bank. Their vice chairman, Richard Gnodde, said the “signing of a long-term lease demonstrates our continued commitment to London and our European operations more broadly”. Despite Britain’s departure, many companies and sectors are indeed remaining resilient.
Demand from Asian investors in UK commercial property has recently led other banks such as Lloyds Banking Group Plc to also agree to sale-and-leaseback deals in London in order to raise funds for their more vital operations. Korea’s National Pension Services acquired the building via LaSalle Investment Management and in doing so made their first London acquisition since 2009 when they bought Citigroup Inc.’s Canary Wharf tower.
Investment from Asia in London’s commercial property has risen since the Brexit vote of 2016. The weakened pound has made properties cheaper and Asian buyers have found more attractive yields than in their home countries’ markets. For instance, South Korea had already spent £1.1 billion this year on UK commercial property by June and is forecast to spend £4 billion by the end of the year.