Standard Chartered Considers Slashing Singapore Office Space

Standard Chartered Plc is weighing options to downsize its office space in what could become the biggest floor cuts by a bank in Singapore in recent years, according to people familiar with the matter.

The London-based bank is weighing options that would see it give up some of the 21 floors it leases at Marina Bay Financial Tower 1 in the business district, according to people familiar, who requested not to be named because the matter is private. An option for the bank is to cut a minimum of four floors -- the equivalent of about 80,000 square feet -- one of the people said. The plans are under discussion and subject to change, the people said.

Standard Chartered is among a number of global banks that are moving to permanent hybrid working following the Covid-19 pandemic. Should it proceed with its plans in Singapore, it could be the biggest office space cut among lenders in the city in recent years, mirroring a similar downsizing it’s undertaking in Hong Kong. It will join a list of other global banks like Citigroup Inc., DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and Mizuho Financial Group Inc.

The bank said on Thursday that it plans to reduce office space by about a third and halve its branch networks to around 400.

Standard Chartered Considers Slashing Singapore Office Space

“We are likely to see more banks taking this route,” said Christine Li, head of research for Asia Pacific at Knight Frank in Singapore. “The additional nudge to digitize the entire process during the lockdowns has enabled banks in Singapore and other countries to embrace hybrid working.”

Standard Chartered currently occupies 21 floors -- an estimated 420,000 square feet -- in Marina Bay Financial Tower 1 in the business district.

Standard Chartered may be even more aggressive in trimming, as it only needs to retain four floors to keep its logo on the building’s facade, the people added. One option is cutting its space by half, one of the people said. The bank is an anchor tenant in the building, which is part of a three-tower complex managed by Raffles Quay Asset Management.

Standard Chartered Considers Slashing Singapore Office Space

The company is looking to optimize its offices in Singapore while boosting the wellness of its employees by providing amenities including gyms.

It’s also trying to make better use of its massive facility at Changi Business Park, according to people familiar. It’s renovating the place to make it an open, university-campus style workplace, where there are more collaborative spaces that even the public can use, one of the people said.

Having that space, coupled with the fact that Standard Chartered is moving to a permanent flexible work arrangement, means it doesn’t require that many floors in the business district.

Standard Chartered said in an emailed statement that the company constantly reviews its workplace environment to make it more open and campus-like, embracing new ways of working. Currently about 80% of the company’s employees in Singapore are on a flexible working arrangement, it added, declining to comment further on its office rental plans.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.