HSBC lines up deal to sell Docklands headquarters

Bank in talks to sell Canary Wharf tower, and offices in New York and Paris

HSBC could be set to sell its London headquarters for a third time after confirming that it has received a number of expressions of interest for the Canary Wharf tower, thought to be valued at close to £880m.

The bank is also looking for offers for its Fifth Avenue office in New York and its site on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. A sale of all three, which could be announced within weeks, would raise as much as $2bn (£1.25bn) for the group.

A deal for HSBC's Docklands skyscraper would be the third time the bank has sold the site in just two years. In December last year, HSBC repossessed the office block after Spanish real estate group Metrovacesa was unable to refinance an £810m bridging loan provided by the bank for its purchase. The tower was then sold back to HSBC for £838m, after the bank sold it in 2007 for £1.09bn, netting HSBC a profit of about £250m.

The bank said in April that it was looking for ways to strike another sale-and-lease-back deal, and that it had hired real estate adviser CB Richard Ellis to start marketing the three offices. CB Richard Ellis declined to comment yesterday, while the bank refused to comment on whether a sale was imminent.

However, it is thought that preferred bidders for the sites could be named as early as next week, with reports in the South Korean press indicating that the country's National Pension Service (NPS) is close to buying the London site.

"We have resumed buying foreign properties of late, as many buildings are underrated now in the aftermath of the financial crisis," NPS spokesman Kim Ha-young said in an interview with the Korean press. "We are interested in the HSBC building in London, although we are not sure whether the building is up for sale. We don't know whether we would form a consortium or would try to buy the skyscraper on our own. All the details will be decided only if HSBC opts to sell." It is understood that HSBC is in talks with NPS over a "cash only" bid, and that there are at least two other potential bidders in the frame should the talks collapse.

Commercial-property prices have rebounded in recent months, while the number of investment groups circling potential investments in Canary Wharf and the City of London has increased. Songbird Estates, which holds a majority of Canary Wharf Group (CWG), the company that owns most of the commercial property in the area, tapped a rescue rights issue last week to secure the funding necessary to buy an additional 8.75 per cent after German bank Commerzbank sold its stake in the financial district.

It is thought that a number of investors have approached CWG about the building, which was previously occupied by Bear Stearns, the failed US investment bank that was rescued by JP Morgan.

In July, a Lebanese investment group, backed by the country's former prime minister Najib Mikati, bought part of Credit Suisse's sprawling Docklands office complex for £150m, at a yield of less than 6 per cent.

The investment group has leased the property back to the bank under a 25-year lease agreement. It is thought that there were at least 20 formal bids for the property.

Sale-and-lease-back agreements have been struck by a number of banks in recent years. Initially, the funds were used to free capital to lend. However, banks are now also under pressure to satisfy regulatory capital requirements.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
football
Sport
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
News
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
people
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine