FSA move in double trouble

The Financial Services Authority, the new super regulator, may face the disruption of moving into temporary accommodation before it can enter its new premises in Canary Wharf.

Currently based in the City, in the offices of what was the Securities and Investments Board, the FSA has been made a cash offer to vacate its existing premises as soon as possible. The freehold to its current premises, in Bunhill Row, is owned by the Honourable Artillery Company. The FSA wants to sell its lease, and has been made an attractive offer for early vacation.

However, its new offices in London's Docklands will not be ready before next autumn. It would mean the agency would have to move twice.

Sources aware of the developments say no decisions have been reached yet, but it may be the FSA will have to make the double move. Any decision, however, will be thought through carefully. One possibility would be to secure space at Canary Wharf tower, which overlooks its new offices.

Staff at the agency have been approached about taking part in a consultation exercise for their views on moving twice. Some are bemused by the turn of events, and especially the offer of consultation, as it seems a straightforward choice to them that that most will prefer just the one move.

The FSA faces a dilemma between the need to reach the best terms in any commercial transaction it is involved in and its duties as a regulator. The process of making two moves could well slow down its current case load and its ability to respond swiftly to new developments. Any such accusations would carry political repercussions and would be seized on by the Tories.

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