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International Property

Deutsche Bank joins the Wall Street exodus for view of Central Park at New York’s Columbus Circle

Move comes as new CEO Christian Sewing sets out to restructure bank, which includes scaling back US operations

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 May, 2018, 8:03pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 May, 2018, 8:03pm

Deutsche Bank is leaving Wall Street, moving its New York headquarters to midtown Manhattan, as the German investment bank embarks on a broad shake-up of its operations in the United States.

The company will lease 1.1 million sq ft of office space at Columbus Circle, slashing its footprint in the city by 30 per cent, the head of Deutsche Bank’s Americas business, Tom Patrick, wrote in a memo to staff on Friday. The company, which has been leasing offices at 60 Wall Street, will begin the move in the third quarter of 2021.

One mock-up of the bank’s new trading floor shows an expansive view of Central Park.

The departure from Wall Street is a milestone for the historic financial district in lower Manhattan, following a long exodus of major companies to other parts of the city. Banks remaining closest now include Goldman Sachs, headquartered near the site of the original World Trade Center at 200 West Street, while Citigroup is a stone’s throw away in Tribeca. More of the industry is further uptown.

“The relocation is an investment in our clients, in our employees and in our future long-term presence in the US,” Patrick wrote in the memo. “The new location will result in closer proximity to key clients, consolidate New York activities and provide employees with access to modern, state-of-the-art facilities, technology and amenities while retaining access to critical transport links.”

The decision followed a 16-month review, according to the memo. Yet it comes just as new chief executive Christian Sewing sets out to restructure the investment bank, including scaling back operations in the US. That overhaul may eliminate more than 10 per cent of its workforce there, a person briefed on the matter said last week.

In 2001, Deutsche Bank bought 60 Wall Street from JPMorgan Chase as the Frankfurt-based company sought to house the workers and the staff it had added with the purchase of Bankers Trust Corporation two years earlier. In 2007, Deutsche Bank sold the building for US$1.2 billion and agreed to lease the office space back from its new owners for 15 years.

The company’s new Midtown address will be One Columbus Circle. That is part of the complex at Time Warner Center, where a group including Stephen M. Ross’s Related Cos., the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Singapore’s state fund GIC bought 1.1 million sq ft of office space for US$1.3 billion in 2014. The 80-story, twin-tower project, which opened in 2004, was designed by architect David Childs, also known for his work on One World Trade Center.

Among alternative sites, Deutsche Bank also considered becoming the anchor tenant for Larry Silverstein’s Two World Trade Center, according to reports last September.

The new location “is part of a wider effort to right-size and invest in our commercial footprint in Frankfurt, London and now, New York,” Patrick wrote. In a separate memo earlier, the bank said it was also shutting an office in Houston while exiting oil and gas investment banking coverage.

The relocation is an investment in our clients, in our employees and in our future long-term presence in the US
Tom Patrick, head of Americas business, Deutsche Bank

Wall Street is now more concept than place. The exodus of major companies from the area around the New York Stock Exchange to Midtown began in the 1970s, as computerised trading freed banks and brokerages from having to deliver paper securities and cheques.

Among the first to move uptown was Morgan Stanley, which remains in Midtown near Times Square. Other early movers were Chemical Bank and Manufacturers Hanover. Space was in many cases cheaper and Midtown was a more convenient location for visiting corporate executives.

Major companies that still call the financial district home are American Express, which is headquartered at 200 Vesey St., and the US arm of Canada’s RBC Capital Markets.

Moves around the city never cease. Midtown-based financial companies including KKR & Co., BlackRock and Wells Fargo are taking space at new buildings at Hudson Yards on the far West side of Manhattan over a former rail yard.

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