Citi in talks to buy Canary Wharf office building - source

Citi in talks to buy Canary Wharf office building - source
FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc (Citi) logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. Picture taken October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo -
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LONDON (Reuters) - Citigroup is in talks to buy the tower housing its European headquarters in London's Canary Wharf district, which is on the market with a price tag of around 1.2 billion pounds (£1.20 billion), a source familiar with the matter said.

The tower at 25 Canada Square, which already houses many of the bank's 6,000 London-based staff, was put up for sale in October by AGC Equity Partners. The source said a deal had yet to be agreed, with Citi unlikely to offer the full asking price.

Should Citi agree the purchase, with a decision likely in the next couple of months, the bank would look to move staff currently based in a second building in the area, 33 Canada Square, to the larger tower, the source said.

News of the talks was earlier reported by the Financial Times.

Such a move would be in line with Citi's strategy of buying buildings in locations where it has and intends to retain a presence, and follows a deal in 2016 to buy the group's New York office, the source said.

The deal would be a boost for London's commercial property market ahead of Brexit. Around 60 percent of Citi's Europe-based staff already work outside of Britain, which has meant very few - around 60 - were expected to be moved as part of preparations for Britain's exit from the European Union, the source said.

($1 = 0.7747 pounds)

(Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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