Digest on the move

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The Independent Online
TOM STEVENSON and DAVID PARSLEY

Reader's Digest, publisher of one of Britain's biggest-selling magazines, is planning to move 400 staff to Canary Wharf from three offices in London's West End. The company will take 140,000sq ft in the Docklands office complex, leaving only one building of the 4.5 million sq ft scheme still empty.

Following the signing-up of Trade Indemnity, earlier this week, and the recent success in attracting BZW, the investment bank, to Canary Wharf, the deal confirms the viability of a development that only two years ago had been written off as a white elephant.

The latest lettings come at a critical moment in negotiations over the re-acquisition of the site by Paul Reichmann, the property entrepreneur reported to be ready to pay pounds 800m to win the scheme back from its present owners, a consortium of 11 banks led by Lloyds.

Reader's Digest confirmed yesterday that it was in negotiations with Canary Wharf, but said it did not expect to sign a deal until December and would not move into the offices until the end of 1997. That would be just before the planned completion of the Jubilee Line extension, which is seen as the key to the success of Docklands.

Although terms have not been finalised yet, Knight Frank & Rutley, the agent acting for Reader's Digest, is understood to have secured a rent of about pounds 15 a square foot, averaged over the length of the lease. The company currently occupies offices in Holborn, Berkeley Square and Curzon Street in the West End, where rents are more than twice as expensive.

Trade Indemnity, meanwhile, the credit management group, is moving 450 staff into the 50-storey tower at Canary Wharf, taking over 70,000sq ft. More than 13,000 people now work at the site, which is currently 75 per cent leased.

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