Songbird Estates, the Canary Wharf developer, has returned to full-year profits and moved to calm fears over a banking exodus from London. Its chairman, David Pritchard, said: "No bank has left Canary Wharf.
London as a centre has a lot of strength; it is very much alive and kicking." The forthcoming income tax hike on higher earners and the bonus "supertax" were feared to risk driving banking talent abroad.
Songbird is in a dispute with PricewaterhouseCoopers which could end in the courts. The accountancy giant has paid rent for half of Lehman Brothers' headquarters in Canary Wharf since moving in to work on the US bank's administration. PwC told Songbird it will now only pay for the space it has occupied since January – which is less than a third – until it moves out next week. The move would cost Songbird £2.6m.
The group said it swung to a £334.6m pre-tax profit for 2009, after a loss of £1.9bn the previous year.