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Goldman Sachs Relocation: Put Your Money On Birmingham Beating Manchester

Goldman Sachs office

Goldman Sachs is pondering a 60K SF regional relocation aimed at attracting top graduate tech talent, and Manchester and Birmingham are in its crosshairs. So React News reported, adding that JLL had been appointed to advise the U.S. investment bank but had declined to comment, as had Goldman Sachs.

On the face of it, this is great news for one or the other of England’s two largest regional hubs. Specialists in the fintech sector said the move makes sense: Goldman Sachs has missed out on the UK regional talent now being plundered by its rivals. Tech engineering talent in the regional cities is available at up to a 30% discount on wages at London-based operation, Efinancialcareers.com reported.

There are, however, two reasons to be cautious about Manchester’s chances of winning the prize.

The first reason is activity on the ground, which suggests less a move to the north than a move north. 

Goldman Sachs visited Birmingham in December and saw as many as eight potential locations with the aim of securing short-term accommodation of around 10K SF by May 2020, and the full 60K SF by the end of the year. It is due to make a return visit soon, with February considered likely.

This contrasts with reports from Manchester. The city has won a reputation for tech graduate recruitment such that GCHQ chose it for its new regional base, yet agents and landlords report neither sight nor sound of Goldman Sachs.

The suspicion in Manchester is that the city is a make-weight intended to provide Goldman Sachs with the leverage to extract incentives from developers and local government in Birmingham. Weight is added to this interpretation by the fact that this is the exact opposite of what is believed in Birmingham.

The second reason for caution is the serious political spin put on the Goldman Sachs move by some news outlets, prominently The Times whose first paragraph references Boris Johnson, the prime minister. Johnson is anxious to be seen to level-up the UK’s regional economies, and reported to be on the brink of approving at least the London to Birmingham section of the controversial HS2 high speed rail line.

If Goldman Sachs looked like moving to Birmingham it would be convenient evidence that the HS2 link could have serious economic spin-offs. That tech staff in London who might be relocating as soon as the spring knew nothing of the move adds to the sense that the announcement is maybe more about politics than property. 

Goldman declined to comment.