Too much room at the top: Gherkin fails to find tenants

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The Independent Online

Swiss Reinsurance has yet to find tenants for its new City headquarters, the tower designed by Lord Foster and dubbed "the Erotic Gherkin".

The group, one of the world's largest insurance companies, is due to move into the distinctive glass and steel building at the end of this year. Around 800 Swiss Re staff will occupy floors two to 15, but so far there have been no takers for the remaining levels 16 to 34. It is understood that rents for the 500,000sq-ft building - which stands on the site of the bombed Baltic Exchange - are around £55 per sq ft, down from initial estimates of more than £60.

A spokeswoman declined to say how much it would cost Swiss Re to have the floors stand empty. The building has room for around 4,000 people.

The City property market has slumped over the last year as the economic downturn prompted companies to cut spending and slash headcounts. Rents for office space have dropped in response. Ideally, Swiss Re wants to let the floors to one large tenant and a mix of smaller ones but an insider concedes: "There's interest but the market is slow."

The delay could prove to be a blow for Swiss Re, which has slumped into the red over the last two years, rocked by turbulent equity markets and rising claims, notably over 11 September.