Societe Generale Joins DBS in Paring Hong Kong Office Space

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The list of foreign banks relinquishing pricey office space in Hong Kong is growing, with Societe Generale SA confirming it’s vacating one floor in the Admiralty business district.

The French bank is releasing space in Swire Properties Ltd.’s Three Pacific Place, according to an emailed statement from the lender. Societe Generale’s lease expires this year and it decided to renew for six floors instead of seven, the bank said.

“We have assessed as early as 2019 different options to the renewal of the lease, factoring in our staff’s increasing expectations to work from home, convenience of the current location, and costs of moving,” the bank said. “We have done a specific assessment of the occupancy rate of our offices, which demonstrates that we could release a floor.”

Multinational firms, which are more likely to allow employees to work from home than their local peers, constituted 75% of the surrendered office stock last year, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

DBS Group Holdings Ltd. also surrendered some floors in Swire Properties’ One Island East tower on the other side of Hong Kong Island. In the past few months, BNP Paribas SA and Standard Chartered Plc gave up floors in their Hong Kong headquarters, while UBS Group AG relinquished a floor in Sheung Wan’s Li Po Chun Chambers late last year.

Rental rates for Hong Kong’s grade A office have fallen for 21 straight months, with overall vacancy at 9.3%, data from Jones Lang LaSalle show. Total surrendered space in February rose to a record 1.77 million square feet (164,438 square meters), JLL said.

Rents are expected to fall by 7% in 2021 as tenants seek to reduce costs, according to Colliers International.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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