Financial Times Building Put Up For Sale For £90m

The Financial Times’ building on the south bank of the Thames is being put up for sale for around £90 million ahead of the newspaper’s move to the City of London.

Agents at Knight Frank are launching a sale of the freehold this month on behalf of Pearson, the educational publisher that owns the building, sources told the FT.

The building at One Southwark Bridge, which has been occupied by the newspaper since 1989, is viewed as a refurbishment opportunity.

Agents said it would likely remain as office space since the South Bank has become an increasingly popular office location, attracting companies such as WPP.

Pearson sold the Financial Times to Japan’s Nikkei in 2015 but retained ownership of the building. It has since been exploring its options for the FT building as well as for the lease on its flagship London building on the Strand.

The publisher originally considered transferring the Strand lease commitment to an investor in a deal that would also include the FT building, but has now opted for a straight sale of the FT headquarters as part of a broader strategy to cut its property portfolio.

The chief executives of two UK-listed property companies said they were keen to view the building, the newspaper reported.

The FT is due to return to its previous offices at Bracken House near St Paul’s Cathedral in 2019.

The sale of the freehold at One Southwark Bridge and a transfer of the lease of Pearson’s own corporate headquarters at 80 Strand would be the latest in a decades-long string of disposals by the former conglomerate.

Château Latour, Madame Tussauds, Lazard Brothers, FTSE International, Penguin Random House and a stake in the Economist have all been sold as part of a shift to a pure-play education business.

Following the disposals, Pearson forecast profit growth for 2018, suggesting its efforts to make the company leaner and more agile are paying off.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Pearson was hoping for more than £100 million for One Southwark Bridge, although sources said the price will depend on whether it partners with a developer and rebuilds it before selling or decides to sell it as is.

Pearson also leases space in London at One90 High Holborn, which houses Pearson College.

Ben Almond, global head of property at Pearson, told the FT earlier this year that the company was committed to a London HQ and “a key priority is to ensure we have a great office space and facilities that provide a great working experience for all our people”.

DMZ reckons the FT building could be snapped up by foreign investors, who are continuing to pour money into London’s office buildings despite the uncertainty created by Brexit.

Foreign buyers spent more on commercial property in the city in the first half of this year than in central Paris, Manhattan, Munich and Frankfurt combined.

The biggest deals included the £1 billion purchase of UBS Group’s 5 Broadgate office by Hong Kong’s CK Asset Holdings and the £650 million purchase of Ropemaker Place by Singapore’s Ho Bee Land.

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