Tech firms overtake banks in European office rentals

Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:49pm EST
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By Tom Bill

LONDON (Reuters) - Triton Court, a century-old old art deco building on London's Finsbury Square, is a good example of how the financial crisis is transforming demand for commercial property in Europe.

Its grand, arched entrance faces the City's financial heartland while a scruffy, narrow street runs along the back in a gritty area containing technology firms such as Google and Mind Candy, creator of online game Moshi Monsters.

Resolution Property paid 43 million pounds ($69 million) for the empty block in June. As part of a 150 million pound revamp it will switch the entrance to the back and reopen in 2014, turning away from finance in favor of technology companies.

The redesign, which includes renaming the building Alphabeta, will let staff cycle through the reception area en route to amenities including a basketball court, film studio and roof terraces.

"Financial services is in a state of retreat," said Robert Wolstenholme, a partner at Resolution. "The creative world does not feel comfortable sharing a building with bankers. So, we had to reposition it physically and conceptually."

Technology and telecom (T&T) companies rented more new office space in Europe in the first half than banking and finance firms for the first time, a report by property consultancy CBRE said on Tuesday.

Growing use of smartphones, tablet computers and cloud computing is driving demand, CBRE said, citing a forecast from technology researcher Gartner that global sales of tablet computers such as Apple's iPad will triple to 326 million units in 2015.

Companies such as Amazon, LinkedIn, Skype and Russian email service Mail.Ru rented 520,000 square meters of space versus 420,000 for finance and banking over the period, placing the T&T sector third behind manufacturing and energy, commercial services and leisure.   Continued...