RBS is selling its London Bishopsgate headquarters in cost-cutting drive

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which is currently majority-owned by the UK government, is planning to flog its London headquarters post-2019 as it pushes ahead with an extreme cost-cutting drive.

The bank will move out of the 280 Bishopsgate building back down the road to number 250, which it is planning to revamp later this year.

Moving will take place during 2019, and the bank will then begin to think about selling the building. A spokesperson told City A.M. that there is no planned deal lined up.

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"As we become a simpler, smaller UK-focused bank and as we encourage more flexible ways of working, we no longer require the same amount of office space as we once did," the RBS spokesperson said.

"We will be exiting 280 Bishopsgate by the end of 2019 which will further reduce our property costs in London. We will be revamping our nearby office at 250 Bishopsgate later in the year to accommodate more staff and to create a better, more flexible working environment.”

RBS was reported last year to be selling its Premier Place London office to an arm of Quebec’s government pension manager, Ivanhoe Cambridge. The offer price was said to be slightly less than the £145m the bank was seeking, according to Bloomberg.

Whether RBS will have better luck selling 280 Bishopsgate, by which time the UK is scheduled to have fully left the EU, remains to be seen.

RBS has also been pinching pennies in other areas. In December, it said it would close 259 Bank of Scotland and Natwest branches and lop 680 jobs – a move which proved unpopular with many politicians, especially those who represent more rural constituencies.

Some staff from the Bishopsgate HQ will also move to offices in Princes Street and Regents House, City A.M. understands. Although there is not expected to be a swathe of job cuts to facilitate the move, current chief executive Ross McEwan has been pursuing a gradual shrinking of headcount.

His pragmatic style is in contrast to former boss Fred Goodwin, who stepped down following the bank's £45bn government bailout after pursuing a rapid expansion plan.

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