HSBC leaves Canary Wharf: Bank to move HQ to smaller office in City as more staff work from home
HSBC plans to move from its massive headquarters in Canary Wharf to a smaller office in the City of London.
The banking giant will emerge from the 45-story skyscraper by the end of 2026, dubbed the “Tower of Doom” by some associates.
The rise of home working in the wake of the pandemic has led to empty desks in offices in towns and cities around the world, including the UK.
With many companies looking for less space, HSBC is looking to move to Panorama St Paul’s, the redeveloped former office of telecom group BT in the Square Mile.
Panorama offers a modern office environment in the city, well connected to major transport links and amenities.
Downsizing: HSBC will vacate its 45-storey Canary Wharf skyscraper (pictured) — dubbed the Tower of Doom by staff — by the end of 2026
HSBC shares rose 0.3 percent, or 1.9 pence, to 604.1 pence.
The decision is a huge blow to Canary Wharf, where HSBC has been based since 2002, when it floated its retail, corporate, corporate and investment bankers to the tower from several London offices, at a cost of nearly £1bn.
Officially known as 8 Canada Square, the towering steel and glass building was designed by British architect Norman Foster, the mastermind behind other notable London landmarks, including the City’s skyscraper ‘The Gherkin’.
His company also designed Apple’s sprawling headquarters in California, USA.
The HSBC Tower houses approximately 8,000 employees in nearly 6 square feet of office space.
The bank’s new location in the City is a 55,000 square meter building.
In 2007, HSBC sold the tower to Spanish property company Metrovacesa in a deal that made it the first building in Britain to raise more than £1 billion.
The bank bought the property in 2008 when Metrovacesa faced funding problems during the global recession.
It was then sold to a South Korean pension fund in 2009 before being acquired by its current owner, the government of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, in 2014.
But the bank’s switch to Panorama comes as companies try to cut back on their real estate costs. Due to the rise of working from home, employees spend less time in the office.
In 2021, the bank’s boss, Noel Quinn, scrapped an executive floor on the 42nd floor, claiming it was “empty half the time” as HSBC executives regularly traversed the globe managing its operations.
News of the move was greeted with elation in the city and touted as a sign of the Square Mile’s continued status as a major global financial center.
“HSBC’s decision to return here to the heart of the City of London is a huge vote of confidence,” said Chris Hayward, policy chairman of the City of London Corporation.
“This move reinforces the city’s reputation as an excellent destination for financial services companies. We are confident that HSBC will thrive and achieve great success.”
But the decision is likely to raise further questions about Canary Wharf’s future as owners – the Qatar Investment Authority and Canadian asset manager Brookfield – look to rid the area of its reliance on major investment banks amid a drought of global deals.
Several projects are being drafted to increase its appeal, including plans for an 80,000-square-foot laboratory tower designed to attract life sciences companies to the area.
There are also proposals to build student accommodation and residential flats and revamp the Middle Dock area of the site to introduce more green space and recreational areas to attract recreational visitors.