Finweek English Edition - - Openers - BRUCE WHIT­FIELD

BAR­CLAYS PLC CON­TROLLED Absa is spend­ing R1,1bn build­ing a new in­nercity of­fice block in cen­tral Jo­han­nes­burg to house its new group head of­fice and an ad­di­tional 3 600 staff.

SA’s three big­gest re­tail banks – Absa, Stan­dard Bank and FNB – have re­mained in the Jo­han­nes­burg city cen­tre de­spite con­tin­ued ur­ban de­gen­er­a­tion and fail­ing ser­vices. How­ever, FNB re­cently re­vealed that it would be re­lo­cat­ing its Wes­Bank as­set fi­nance di­vi­sion and group mort­gage busi­ness out­side the city cen­tre to a new RMB de­vel­op­ment near the N3 mo­tor­way, 20km north of the city cen­tre.

In or­der to re­main in the city cen­tre and de­velop the bank’s cam­pus, the group has de­mol­ished sev­eral city blocks to make way for the new Absa Tow­ers West, ad­ja­cent to the group’s cur­rent head of­fice. The new Absa build­ing will span three city blocks and com­prise an of­fice build­ing tak­ing up two blocks, with a bridge over Mar­shall Street, and a parkade on the third block.

“It won’t look like a parkade,” says Sipho Mashinini, man­ag­ing ex­ec­u­tive of Absa Real Es­tate As­set Man­age­ment, “and will pro­vide space for 3 200 ve­hi­cles.”

The re­al­ity for both Absa and FNB is that in­creas­ing num­bers of their staff are driv­ing to work and park­ing in the CBD is now a pri­or­ity for man­agers.

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