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Morgan Stanley Starts Review Of 800K SF London Offices

Morgan Stanley's European HQ at 20 Bank Street.

Morgan Stanley has appointed an agent to review options for its London office portfolio, in one of the largest occupational reviews started in recent years.

The U.S. bank has appointed Cushman & Wakefield to advise it on options, React News reported. It occupies two buildings totalling 800K SF in Canary Wharf: 550K SF in its European HQ at 20 Bank Street, and 250K SF at the nearby Cabot building. 

Any change in the bank’s occupational requirement isn’t imminent: It has lease breaks at both buildings in 2029. But the decisions it takes will be watched with interest given it is one of the largest occupational reviews undertaken in the new world created by the coronavirus. And at 800K SF, Morgan Stanley is one of the 10 largest office occupiers in London. 

Morgan Stanley hit the news in April when chief executive James Gorman said the bank would need much less real estate in future, with a large proportion of its workforce likely to work remotely. But this week he rowed back from the statement, saying “the vast majority of employees for the vast majority of time will continue to work in offices,” according to React News.

The bank could consider consolidating its operations into one building, and that building might not be in Canary Wharf, React reports. 

It has been on a path to shrinking its real estate footprint in London for some years. It subleased 200K SF at the Cabot to other occupiers, and broke a lease on 345K SF at another Canary Wharf building, 20 Cabot Square, in 2010.

That mirrors the trend for banks to take less space more generally. Deutsche Bank is moving into a new 550K SF City of London HQ, which consolidates close to 1M SF it previously leased in buildings across London.