Baltic Exchange to sell its bomb-damaged building and move to smaller floor

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The Independent Online
THE Baltic Exchange, home of the London shipping market, put its bomb-damaged City building up for sale yesterday and said it would be moving to a smaller trading floor nearby, writes Peter Rodgers.

The site is expected to fetch only pounds 5m to pounds 10m, because any new developer faces liabilities of pounds 12m to pounds 15m in restoring the listed parts of the building to their condition before the IRA bomb attack in April 1992.

Jim Buckley (above), chief executive of the exchange, said Hillier Parker, the estate agency handling the sale, had already had a dozen inquiries though no price had been named. 'We have pitched the timing just right and people are taking an interest,' he added.

Until the bomb, the exchange relied on property income from 60 tenants in the building. With an operating deficit of pounds 1m a year before investment income, falling membership, declining attendance on the market floor and inadequate use of the members' club, the loss of rental income has made the old building a burden.

Mr Buckley said an ideal replacement would have a floor space of about 20,000 square feet, with about 3,000 square feet for the trading floor, and be near the present building. He believes there are plenty of possibilities, given the depressed state of the City property market. The exchange will consider a joint venture to develop the floor, but Mr Buckley said a straight sale was more likely.

Photograph: Edward Webb

(Photograph omitted)