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Widows hires 400 staff and sells headquarters in biggest office deal

Scottish WidowsScottish Widows is recruiting 400 staff to help it cope with the anticipated demand for enquiries over the forthcoming changes to pensions.

All pensions companies are reporting a high level of calls as retirees request details about how the changes will affect them and whether to cash in their pension pots.

One source said the sector is expecting the equivalent of a year’s enquiries in the two months around the introduction of the new rules in April when retirees will have greater choice over their savings.

A recent finding is that fewer people are wanting to cash in once they have learned the full range of options.

A spokesman for Widows confirmed that 400 full-time staff would be hired, though they are not on permanent contracts.

They will be based in Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh and will be there to provide necessary support.

“We don’t really know how many calls to expect but we need the people in place to ensure things go smoothly,” said the spokesman.

The jobs news comes as the Scottish Widows headquarters in the Exchange district has been sold in the biggest ever office transaction in Edinburgh.

The £105 million acquisition of the freehold on the 271,637 sq ft building opposite the EICC has an initial yield close to 5.1%. The vendor is Aberdeen Asset Management.

It will remain the head office of Scottish Widows which has occupied the property since 1997.  A range of UK and international investors lodged bids and the eventual purchaser was an overseas based private client of HSBC Private Bank.

Alasdair Humphery, Lead Director of JLL Scotland, said: “Edinburgh has long marketed itself as a destination for overseas investment, and this sale truly underlines the City’s credentials. The combination of Edinburgh as an investment prospect, a truly HQ office building and the long secure income resulted in significant interest from global investors and enabled the completion of a quick sale.”

JLL and CBRE acted on behalf of the vendor; CMS were legal advisors.

Knight Frank and Brodies acted on behalf of HSBC Alternative Investments.

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