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Friday, April 1, 2011

Earthquake forces rethink of bank's plans

Earthquake forces rethink of bank's plans

Last updated 05:00 02/04/2011
The Bank of New Zealand is rethinking plans to move its Christchurch headquarters to a site now in the shadow of a 17-storey earthquake wreck.

The Carter Group was to build new premises for the bank behind the facade of the Vic and Whale building in Victoria Square, replacing the BNZ's existing head office in Cathedral Square.

The plan was hatched before the February earthquake which wrecked the 17-storey Forsyth Barr House across the road.

The bank would have been the Carter Group's main tenant in the new building.

However, Garry Pellett, head of properties at BNZ, said the earthquake had changed things.

"Recent events necessitate both parties to reconsider whether or not they proceed with the original concept, an alternative to it, or at all," he said.

When the quake hit the plan was before the Overseas Investment Office and it has since been given the go-ahead. Approval was needed because the bank is owned by the National Bank of Australia and because of the size of the lease.

The office estimated the deal would have been worth $46 million in rent over 24 years to the Carter Group, which is headed by Philip Carter and is one of central Christchurch's biggest landlords.

The existing BNZ House in Cathedral Square, in which the bank leases three office floors, is owned by a group of local investors. It was damaged in February's 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

In the past two years the bank has moved 2500 staff into new buildings in Wellington and Auckland.

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