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FMB secures buyer for £5m HQ and looks at new properties

Exclusive: a buyer has been secured for the Federation of Master Builder’s London headquarters but it could still be months before an agreement is reached for its preferred new home.

CN understands that the FMB has secured a buyer for around £5 million for the freehold for the 14/15 Great James Street property, which was advertised through estate agents Morgan Lambert and Partners for £5.75m earlier this year.

The FMB is still locked in negotiations about a move to Ely Place in London’s EC1, in a deal to be worth less than £3m.

Negotiations on securing the new property have proved difficult as the building is owned by five separate parties, each of whom is believed to be negotiating its sale on an individual basis.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry told CN he hopes the move will be wrapped up in the next couple of months and that the federation may look to reinvest the surplus cash from the move in new properties.

Negotiations have been ongoing with the owners, five Greek lawyers, of the preferred new home for the FMB at Ely Place in London’s EC1 for a deal.

Mr Berry insisted the FMB does not need the surplus money from the sale, but said the surplus would be reinvested, potentially in new property.

He said: “We don’t need the money. Our offices in Great James St have quite a lot of spare space.

“We can rationalise that, still have a freehold property – it does release more money to invest elsewhere but also in the business.

“We need to think carefully how we will invest the surplus money. There are things we could be doing in terms of building up our service potential.

“We need to use our money wisely in terms of investing in FMB certification, our technical services, and might want to put money back into property to secure our reserves.”

He added: “The FMB has had a proud history of always owning its own property and now is a very good time to invest, particularly in London.”

On the delay in negotiations for the new property, first reported in CN in January, he insisted that the buyers for the current FMB headquarters will not walk away from the deal.

He said: “[The delay] is purely [due to] negotiating with the vendors of the new property. We have a buyer for our property but we can’t buy yet.

“The price [of Ely House] is part of the factor, I think we’ve almost reached an agreement on that but also we’re dealing with five people who own that property.”

As to when the deal is likely to be concluded, Mr Berry said it could happen within weeks, but that he hopes to have it concluded before the end of the year.

“We’re closer than we’ve ever been so we’ll see how it goes,” he said.

“I’m keen to move because it demonstrates that things are moving along at the FMB, with a new office, new structure and business strategy. At the end of the year we’ll be relaunching our website as well.

“We’re moving because it offers better accommodation, more open-plan. At the moment our current office is a series of small rooms and I want to get more modern accommodation while retaining the freehold.”


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