Belfast Telegraph

Danske Bank to rent out two floors of its offices in Belfast city centre


By Margaret Canning

Danske Bank is moving staff out of its landmark Donegall Square home and putting part of the property on the rental market, it has emerged.

The bank confirmed it has moved a number of employees into other premises outside the city, leading to the second and third floors now going on the lettings market.

But it's understood no jobs are being lost in the process.

The bank did not say how many staff have been relocated. 

In an advertisement today, the bank said the letting was "a unique opportunity to acquire offices on the square".

The Danish-owned bank will also be building a new lobby for use of tenants as part of the letting, described as Grade A office space.

But speaking to Business Telegraph, the bank denied the move was the start of a departure from its Donegall Square West home - the scene in 2004 of the audacious IRA theft of £26.4m. The theft from the then Northern Bank headquarters was the biggest bank robbery on the island of Ireland.

A spokesman for Danske Bank confirmed it was looking into renting out some of its property.

It employs 1,400 people across Northern Ireland at 46 branches - compared to 83 six years ago - and four regional finance centres.

The spokesman said: "We have a large portfolio of property assets and, as a prudent business, we need to make sure that our properties are utilised to the best advantage of the bank and its staff.

"As such, we are looking at the potential to lease space in our buildings to external parties. With good quality office space at a premium, letting the space makes good business sense and we expect there to be a lot of interest.

"At the same time we are also looking to invest in, and improve, the quality of our workplaces for all staff."

It's understood some of Danske Bank's head-office functions will be moving over the next few months to an existing Danske building at Killeaton House in Dunmurry, where a large number of staff already work.

The Donegall Square West premises offers 26,782 sq ft of office space over two floors, with views over Belfast City Hall.

The site is available to let through Osborne King. Director Richard McCaig said: "This is an exceptionally rare opportunity for an occupier to acquire Grade A office accommodation in the city's most prominent commercial location.

"The lack of available Grade A office space in Belfast has been well publicised and we believe that the location, combined with the quality of the building, will prove attractive to the market."

Three years ago, Ulster Bank said it would be putting its landmark headquarters - which face Danske Bank on the other side of Donegall Square - on the market.

The bank was to enter into a sale and leaseback-type agreement, and proceeded to advertise the premises for sale at £19.4m.

But around nine months later, the bank withdrew the Donegall Place premises from the market.

Parent company Royal Bank of Scotland considered the sale of large swathes of its property portfolio following its £45bn taxpayer bail-out in 2008.

In 2014, it sold the London headquarters of its subsidiary, Coutts - known as the Queen's bank - for £175m.

Belfast Telegraph