StanChart gives up multiple floors in Hong Kong offices

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HONG KONG – Standard Chartered is giving up several floors in its main offices in Hong Kong, as global banks accelerate efforts to cut costs and the pandemic upends work styles.

The UK lender is relinquishing the lease on eight floors it occupies in its Standard Chartered Bank Building in Central, and will rent out three levels in its Kwun Tong office that it owns, according to marketing materials seen by Bloomberg. The office space will become available between next month and April next year.

The Central building’s landlord Hang Lung Properties is asking for about HK$6 million (S$1.03 million) a month in rent for the floors, which span approximately 60,000 square feet (5,574 square metres), the materials show.

A Standard Chartered spokeswoman declined to comment. Hang Lung didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Hong Kong Economic Times the lender’s move earlier.

Standard Chartered has said it’s looking at office leases carefully in an environment where lenders face pressure to control expenses, even before the coronavirus hit. The London-based bank decided to offer flexible work options to more than 90 per cent of its 85,000 around the world late last year.

Other foreign companies in Hong Kong are trimming their office space after work-from-home arrangements took hold during the pandemic. Multinational companies constituted 75 per cent of the total surrender of office in the last quarter in Hong Kong, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

BNP Paribas recently decided to hand back a floor in Two International Finance Centre. Last year, Nomura Holdings and Macquarie Group each gave up some office space in Central.

The vacancy rate for the Central district’s grade A office market reached the highest since 2004 in December, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

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