PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) – HSBC <HSBA.L> France is moving out of its prestigious headquarters on Paris’s Champs Elysees avenue, as its parent company looks to sell retail operations in the country, two sources familiar with the matter said.
HSBC France sold its headquarters at 103 avenue Champs Elysees, and a building in front of it at 15 rue Vernet, to Qatari investors back in 2009, and has rented it since then. The buildings house a total of around 1,700-1,800 employees.
“Our lease has expired and we will communicate our plans with our employees soon,” a spokeswoman for the bank said.
One source said “the departure from the historic building at Champs Elysees” should be announced to staff later in the day. Another source confirmed the departure, adding “it’s very expensive” to rent it.
Office rents in Paris are rising to levels not seen since at least 2003, according to Immostat data, as vacancy rates are at record lows.
HSBC inherited the historic headquarters when it bought the French retail operations of Crédit Commercial de France (CCF) in 2000.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the building was a hotel where World War One spy and exotic dancer Mata Hari was arrested.
HSBC Holdings has hired U.S. investment bank Lazard Ltd <LAZ.N> to sell its French retail business, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Tuesday, as part of a plan by new interim chief executive Noel Quinn to reduce costs across the banking group.
(Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva, Clara Denina and Lawrence White; Editing by Mark Potter)