Field Fisher looks to downsize into single City site

Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) is considering moving into premises at 10 Aldermanbury off London Wall as the clock ticks on the lease for its current City headquarters.

FFW has shortlisted the site and is mulling subletting space in the building in London’s financial heart from JPMorgan, with several other options on the table.

The firm has appointed Knight Frank agent Bradley Baker to advise on attempts to find a new home, with its current lease coming to an end in 2018. It has the option to move out in 2014, 2016 or 2018 but is aiming to move out in 2014.

At least four buildings are on FFW’s shortlist, which is thought to be growing.

FFW is planning to bring together its two London bases at Vine Street and Ibex House in The Minories into one headquarters and reduce its City space usage by around 20-30 per cent from 80,000-100,000 sq ft to 65,000-70,000 sq ft.

Recently filed LLP accounts show the firm’s staff headcount dropped by 2 per cent from 580 in 2010/11 to 567 in 2011/12, while staff costs fell by 5 per cent from £37.4m to £35.7m (6 February 2013).

Meanwhile, the firm’s annual rent per sq ft would likely rise from the mid-£30s to the mid-£40s.

The firm is also expected to move from cellular working into the more space-efficient open-plan setting in its new location, a layout currently utilised at 10 Aldermanbury. It has been in talks with workplace consultants for a while.

The firm is said to see the transfer as an opportunity to redefine its standing and culture in one move.

The process is being handled by a team comprising managing partner Michael Chissick, real estate partner Antony Phillips and operations director Douglas Peniston.

US firm Debevoise & Plimpton is currently under offer at 10 Aldermanbury but has not reached a final agreement to move its London office into space there from Tower 42. Cazenove switched to the building when the stockbroker was taken over by JPMorgan in 2010, with The Telegraph describing the premises as “less glamorous” than its former Moorgate base, with a canteen that, according to an insider, “will be a shock to the system”.

Other sites JPMorgan has sublet to law firms include 125 London Wall, into which Nabarro is moving in November 2014 (21 December 2012).

JPMorgan appointed Cushman & Wakefield and DTZ to find a tenant to sublet around 800,000 sq ft across the City in 2011, including around 325,000 sq ft at 10 Aldermanbury.

FFW declined to comment.

For more on law firms’ property issues, see here and here.