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LONDON-Barclays Bank today became the second of the UK’s big four retail banks to move its head office to Canary Wharf, signing a pre-letting on the one million sf BP1 building at Churchill Place, next to Canada Square where rival HSBC has its headquarters.

Barclays will occupy 650,000 sf but the deal with Canary Wharf gives it the flexibility to move into more space if required. Construction of the building is expected to commence before the end of this year. Barclays will take occupancy in 2005, joining other companies that have decamped from central London to the Docklands location including Citigroup, HSBC, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Credit Suisse First Boston, Lehman Brothers, Clifford Chance, Bank of New York, Bear Stearns International, the Northern Trust Company, the McGraw-Hill Cos. and Texaco.

The deal completes the leasing of Canary Wharf’s original master plan, but over the past year it has bought in additional land to the north and west of the original site to allow for further phases of development at North Quay and Riverside.

Barclays’ chief executive, Matthew Barrett, says: ‘We looked at a number of possibilities in London, including the option of staying in the City, and Canary Wharf was the only location which met all our needs. The building would provide our staff and visitors with a flexible, modern environment to work in and would provide cost savings over the long-term.’

Barclays will now institute a review of all its existing central London buildings, and it is likely to quit properties in Lombard Street and St Swithin’s Lane in the City and Pall Mall in the West End.

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