Google buys London HQ in $1bn vote of confidence for the office

Google occupies 40pc of the Central St Giles offices

Credit: Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images Images

Google has paid $1bn (£730m) to buy its central London building in what it said demonstrated a long-term commitment to the value of having workers in the office.

The search giant, which has 6,400 staff in the UK, said buying the Central St Giles building reflected its “continued confidence in the office as a place for in-person collaboration”.

The company plans to refit the 15-storey complex, where it occupies about 40pc of the space, for a new era of hybrid working that include video calls and outdoor meetings.

The deal will allow Google to accommodate up to 10,000 staff in the UK.

It was welcomed by Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, as “a big vote of confidence in the UK as a world-leading tech hub”.

A deal to buy the office near Tottenham Court Road from owners Legal & General and Mitsubishi Estate fell through in 2020 amid uncertainty over the future of the office when almost all staff were working from home.

However, Google has since said it expects most staff to come into work most of the time, and has told some staff who work remotely that they face pay cuts if they move to areas with lower costs of living. 

Other tech companies including Amazon and Apple have said they expect most staff to work from an office.

Google has suffered delays to its long-planned “landscraper” development in King’s Cross that will ultimately house most of its staff, and has not put a date on when it expects the office to be completed.

How Google's 'landscraper' in King's Cross will look when finally finished

Credit: Hayes Davidson

Buying the Central St Giles office will give Google more time to complete the long-delayed King’s Cross development.

It said it would carry out a multimillion-pound refurbishment of the office, including “campfire” meeting rooms for video calls in which seats for in-person attendees are interspersed with displays showing those joining remotely.

Other tenants of the complex include NBC Universal and the marketing agency Mindshare, although Google will take up more of the building following the deal.

Ruth Porat, Google’s chief financial officer, said: “We have been privileged to operate in the UK for nearly 20 years, and our purchase of the Central St Giles development reflects our continued commitment to the country’s growth and success.”

Mr Sunak said: “This investment in jobs from Google is a big vote of confidence in the UK as a world-leading tech hub. It is also proof that this country continues to be one of the most attractive places in the world for leading firms to grow their business.”

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