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The new headquarters of the Standard Chartered Bank in Central opened in May 1990. Photo: SCMP

When the Standard Chartered Bank built its new headquarters building in Hong Kong in 1990

  • The bank built its new headquarters on the site of its previous HQ, in Des Voeux Road, in Central, Hong Kong
  • At 191 metres, the finished building was taller than the new Hong Kong Bank building, but dwarfed by the Bank of China building

“Standard Chartered Bank is following in the footsteps of its neighbours [HSBC] with a $600 million investment in a new building on the site of its Hongkong headquarters,” reported the South China Morning Post on December 18, 1985.

“The bank’s existing building on Des Voeux Road […] will fall victim to the demolition squad in the middle of next year.”

Four years later, the bank “denied talk that it was to sell its new Hongkong headquarters”, reported the Post on November 17, 1989, with Simon Pau, head of Standard Chartered’s local banking services division telling the newspaper that, “Rumours in London and Hongkong that Standard Chartered would sell the building in Central, slated for completion in 1990 and built by contractor Nishimatsu Construction, were unfounded.”

“Standard Chartered in Hongkong said it would sell to Nishimatsu the right of lease to the headquarters building for 25 years. Nishimatsu, in turn, agreed to lease back the office area of the building to Standard Chartered until October 2012, after which the bank resumes leasing control. ‘It is technically very difficult for Standard Chartered to sell the building because of their agreement with us,’ a Nishimatsu executive said.”

An interior view of the new headquarters of the Standard Chartered Bank in Central in this photo from 1990. Photo: Sunny Lee

On May 28, 1990, the Post reported that the headquarters were built “on a relatively small site which would not be dwarfed by its avant-garde neighbour, the Hongkong Bank […] $377 million later, architect Remo Riva’s 191-metre, 45-storey tower with its modern interpretation of classical style and geometrical outlook is ready to meet the public.

“The building is nine metres taller than the Hongkong Bank but smaller than the Bank of China, the tallest building in Hongkong at 315 metres.”