Saturday 21 October 2017

JP Morgan widens search for office space in Dublin beyond Capital Dock

RGE's Spencer Place is one of a number of new office schemes being built in Dublin's Docklands
RGE's Spencer Place is one of a number of new office schemes being built in Dublin's Docklands
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

JP Morgan has widened its search for office space in Dublin beyond its reported interest in acquiring a block at Capital Dock, which is currently being developed by Kennedy Wilson.

The Irish Independent understands a delegation from the US investment banking giant came to Dublin last week for a series of meetings with property agents and companies involved in the development of offices in Dublin's docklands. The bank's executives were brought on a tour of the area, and carried out an inspection of a number of the major office sites now under construction. Those parties who met with the JP Morgan team were required to sign a strict confidentiality agreement, the terms of which prohibit them from discussing the bank's potential plans and requirements in terms of Dublin.

While a source familiar with the detail of last week's visit said that JP Morgan is seeking up to 12,000 sq m (130,000 sq ft) of office space by 2018, a spokeswoman for the bank declined to make any comment other than to state that: "Nothing has changed in the past month with relation to our Dublin real estate strategy."

With other sources suggesting that JP Morgan has agreed "a deal in principle" to acquire office space at Capital Dock, the bank's comment suggests that there has been little or no advance on the position which was reported by this newspaper first, two weeks ago.

Last week's visit to Dublin by a delegation from the bank and their inspection of other offices under development in the docklands is in keeping with JP Morgan's previously stated position that other options were "still very much on the table".

While the reporting to date in relation to JP Morgan's interest in Dublin has been linked directly to its plans to relocate employees from London as part of its post-Brexit response, this suggestion is understood to have been frowned upon by the bank.

Prior to last June's referendum, JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon had said as many as 4,000 employees could be relocated if Britain chose to leave the European Union. Last January he modified his position slightly, saying the number could depend on how the UK government's negotiations with the EU play out.

In terms of demand from London-based companies seeking to relocate as part of a specific response to Brexit, JLL's head of research, Hannah Dwyer, noted yesterday that the "desk-based enquiries" in relation to Dublin rents and availability had in recent months translated to site and building visits and the undertaking of due diligence.

She said: "JLL is working with a number of clients who are seriously considering a move to Dublin as part of their strategy, so enquiries are now translating into real post-Brexit activity. We are expecting to see some direct Brexit-related deals signing in the next three months. Dublin is not being considered in isolation, and is in fact being considered alongside other European cities. Our stiffest competition appears to be coming from Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam and Madrid."

"In terms of sectors, we are seeing greatest demand from UK-based financial companies and related services, and tech firms. Sizes are ranging from space for 150 people up to 1,000 people, with only a few at the larger end of this scale," Ms Dwyer added.

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