May 10 (Bloomberg) -- ING Groep NV is seeking to sublet as much as two floors it currently leases in Hong Kong’s tallest building as the company reduces space following the sale of its insurance business in the city.
The biggest Dutch financial-services firm is searching for tenants to take up as much as 70,000 square feet (6,500 square meters) at the International Commerce Centre, according to two people with knowledge of the plan, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Vacancies in some of Hong Kong’s prime-office buildings are rising as banks and brokerages trim staff to keep costs low amid slowing corporate-finance activities. Credit Suisse Group AG, which occupies 10 floors in the tower, also known as ICC, was looking to sublet as much as 64,000 square feet of space, people familiar with the matter said in January.
Average rents at ICC have remained largely unchanged in the past year at about HK$68 ($8.8) a square foot a month, according to broker Cushman & Wakefield Inc. Average rents in West Kowloon, where ICC is located, rose 6 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months, according to Cushman & Wakefield.
Virginia Lau, a spokeswoman for ING Investment Management (Hong Kong) Ltd., declined to comment on the company’s leasing plan. Brenda Wong, a spokeswoman for Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., which built and manages the ICC, declined to comment on the developer’s tenants. Sun Hung Kai is Hong Kong’s biggest developer by market value. Josephine Lee, a spokeswoman for Credit Suisse, declined to comment on the bank’s leasing plan when contacted by Bloomberg News today.
Prime-office rents in the Central business area, the world’s second-most expensive place to lease office space, fell 14 percent in the 12 months ended March, according to the realtor.
The vacancy rate in Central, where banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and HSBC Holdings Plc have their regional headquarters, was 7.3 percent at the end of the first quarter, up 1 percentage point from a year earlier, according to Cushman.
ING is seeking buyers for insurance assets from Asia to the U.S. and cutting 7,500 jobs after receiving a 10 billion-euro ($13 billion) government bailout in 2008. Last year it sold insurance units in Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand to Richard Li, a son of Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest man, for 1.64 billion euros.
Since 2007, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank AG are among banks that have relocated to the 118-floor ICC on the Kowloon peninsula, across the harbor from the Central business district on Hong Kong Island.
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