Standard Life investment arm in major expansion

THE fund management arm of Standard Life unveiled plans yesterday for a huge office expansion at home and overseas, including the biggest letting deal in Edinburgh for a decade.

Keith Skeoch, chief executive of SLI. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Standard Life Investments (SLI) has signed a lease to occupy the entire office space within the new £75 million St Andrew Square development in Edinburgh from 2017.

The premises will house more than 1,000 workers in addition to SLI’s existing HQ in nearby George Street – with the announcement coming just months after parent company Standard Life flagged up its concerns about the commercial impact of any Yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

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At that time, Standard group chief executive David Nish would not rule out moving some of the company’s businesses to England if the Yes campaign had won the referendum.

The £75m development by Standard Life Investments Pooled Pension Property Fund and joint venture partner Peveril Securities also has 85,000 sq ft of retail outlets and apartments.

It came as SLI also announced yesterday that because of its significant expansion in recent years it has opened, or will shortly be opening, ten additional international offices in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Munich, Tokyo, Zurich, Stockholm, Brussels, Milan and Madrid.

SLI has continued to expand significantly in 2014, which included the acquisition of Ignis Asset Management in July, and now manages more than £240 billion of assets.

The business is also expanding its London office, plus its American and Hong Kong hubs – taking an additional floor in the iconic Gherkin building in the City of London, and expanding into the entire floor at Beacon Street in Boston’s financial district.

Keith Skeoch, chief executive of SLI, said the business had “seen considerable global expansion in 2014, both in assets under management and people”.

He said internally generated growth along with the recent integration of Ignis and Standard Life Wealth, and a global collaboration agreement with Manulife, meant SLI had to gear up its office presence.

“The new premises in Edinburgh are just across the road from our existing HQ and will provide our people with the right high quality office environment to foster continued success as we expand our global asset management capability,” Skeoch said.

The lease of 6 St Andrew Square is the biggest pre-let of prime grade A office space in central Edinburgh, and the SLI workers will move in when construction is complete in 2017.

The development includes demolishing part of the B-listed building on the site, which has been vacant for more than five years, and is aimed to provide closer support to SLI clients.

The fund manager operates in 17 countries worldwide, with its main investment offices being Edinburgh, London, Boston and Hong Kong.