If the walls of Winchester House in London could talk, they would be wondering aloud what comes next. Not only is its biggest tenant for 25 years moving out in favor of a brand new home, but the buyers are also planning a complete makeover.
Located in the heart of the City of London, Winchester House’s northern façade forms a curve along London Wall of light-yellow French limestone and black aluminum windows. The building has housed the UK headquarters of Deutsche Bank since it was built in 1998, co-developed by Wates City of London Properties and the German lender. It was designed to meet what, at the time, were the requirements of a financial institution’s headquarters, containing three trading floors capable of accommodating up to 650 dealers per floor, high-quality offices and retail on the ground floor.
However, times have changed. Deutsche Bank, one of the largest employers in the City, has one year left on its lease and will not be renewing it. Instead, the German institution, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in the UK in March, is moving its HQ to 21 Moorfields, a new development above Moorgate Underground Station and the recently opened Elizabeth Line. The project is scheduled to complete later this year and includes more than 550,000 square feet of prime space – boasting trading floors the size of football fields, restaurants and a wellness center among its facilities.
Winchester House, meanwhile, has been sold by China Investment Corporation to a partnership between Malaysian engineering and construction company Gamuda Berhad and UK investment manager Castleforge Partners. The pair will pay £257 million ($319 million; €290 million) for the office building, with Gamuda owning 75 percent of the venture and Castleforge’s fund Castleforge Partners IV owning the rest. Manager Cheyne Capital provided £150 million to finance the acquisition.
The acquisition is part of the Malaysian firm’s ‘quick turnaround projects’ strategy, which aims to maximize returns under current market conditions. The firm is looking to build a regional portfolio with a high internal rate of return and within an investment timeframe of five years, according to a statement.
Reflecting strong demand but limited supply for top-class ESG offices in the City of London, the new owners will revamp the 317,000-square-foot Winchester House into an office building with better ESG credentials such as improved airflow quality, enhanced energy efficiency and smart building technology. The design is targeting BREEAM ‘Outstanding’, WELL Core Platinum and NABERS UK Five Star ratings and the 2.5-year refurbishment will also expand the space of the building from eight to 11 stories.
The walls of Winchester House may be despondent at losing their long-term tenant, but the building’s leasing prospects will no doubt be revitalized by the planned renovation. As the office sector bifurcates into those that will and will not meet the stringent demands of corporate tenants for the years to come, this could prove a timely intervention.
1994: Wates City of London Properties secures Deutsche Bank as tenant and co-developer
1998: Development completes and Deutsche Bank moves in
2012: CIC teams up with Invesco to purchase building for
2023: Gamuda Berhad and Castleforge Partners agree to buy for £257 million
2027: Refurbishment expected to complete