Oh well, there goes the neighbourhood

David Little, a Partner in Bishop & Sewell's Corporate and Commercial department.

A leaked memo reported here, and as seen by Reuters, suggests that HSBC is considering whether to stay in its global HQ at HSBC Tower in Canary Wharf when the lease expires in 2027, writes David Little, a Partner in solicitor Bishop & Sewell’s Corporate and Commercial department.

HSBC has occupied the 45-storey skyscraper at 8 Canada Square since 2002, housing some 8,000 employees. Reportedly dubbed ‘The Tower of Doom’ by some insiders the entrance features two bronze lions, nicknamed Stephen and State.

The leaked memo, allegedly signed by John Hinshaw, HSBC’s Chief Operating Officer, says that the bank wants to assess its “best future location in London”.

“We want our head office to connect people, drive collaboration, foster alternative workstyles and promote wellbeing. It will be much more digitally enabled to help us work smarter, and will be sustainably designed to help meet our net-zero commitments.”

I’m bound to say, who doesn’t? Isn’t that the point of an office?

Major office moves have the potential for being contentious, but for this announcement to have surfaced five years’ early you do wonder whether darker forces are at play. Could a rent review be on the cards, perhaps?

The HSBC story reminds me of another Canary Wharf blockbuster that unfolded before eyes and ears 14 year’s ago. Do you remember Lehman Brothers?

It was announced a few days’ ago that the liquidation of Lehman Brothers’ brokerage unit has ended, 14 years and 13 days after its parent’s bankruptcy helped trigger a market freefall and global financial crisis.

A judge in America closed the brokerage’s estate and awarded final payments to the trustee who oversaw its liquidation and his law firm.

Hat tip to all the professional advisers involved. According to this article more than $115 billion was paid out. Lehman’s 111,000 customers received all $106 billion they were owed, and secured creditors also received full payouts. Unsecured creditors recovered $9.4 billion, or about 41 cents on the dollar. They were originally expected to recover just 20 cents on the dollar.

When you consider that Lehman Brothers had pedigree dating back to 1850 and was one of the largest investment banks in the world it’s bankruptcy demonstrated to us that there is nothing – ultimately – that is not ‘too big to fail’.

David Little is a Partner in Bishop and Sewell’s Corporate & Commercial team. Should you require any further advice or assistance, please contact him quoting reference CB357 on +44 (0)20 7079 4143 or email: [email protected]

About Bishop & Sewell LLP
Bishop & Sewell is a long-established, full service Central London law firm – with an international reach – specialising in Personal, Property and Commercial legal matters. To learn more, visit www.bishopandsewell.co.uk