Historic 109-year-old RBS building up for sale

GEORGE TOWN: The iconic 109-year-old Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) building within the island’s banking district is going up for sale via tender for a month beginning on Monday. Property consultancy firm CB Richard Ellis (Malaysia), or CBRE Malaysia, believes it will draw bidders from around the world.

Chairman Christopher Boyd told newsmen yesterday there is no reserve price for the neoclassical two-storey building at 9 Lebuh Pantai. This is because the building, with a built-up area of 14,000 sq ft, is not being sold because of foreclosure and RBS is not keen on leading tenders.

“We believe people would be excited about the sale of this historical building and will be bullish about the price. The value is subjective. However, we would be surprised if the sale does not get an excess of RM15 million,” he said.

Sited in the core zone of Unesco World Heritage Site, it was built during the Edwardian era in 1905. Boyd stressed that it is a “rare asset”.

The building sprawls over 7,720 sq ft of land, with an attic tower and a basement vault. It used to house the Netherlands Trading Society, which operated as a financial house to promote Dutch trade, investments and shipping interests outside Holland.

The Netherlands Trading Society merged with De Twentsche Bank in the Netherlands in 1964 to form Algemene Bank Nederland NV or ABN Bank, which then later merged with the Amsterdamsche Bank and Rotterdamsche Bank to become ABN-Amro.

In Malaysia, ABN-Amro was incorporated on Oct 1, 1994, and continued to occupy the building until it was taken over by RBS in 2008. RBS operated its business here till last year, when its headquarters decided to consolidate its wholesale banking operation and serve its customers only from Kuala Lumpur. As to why RBS does not want to keep the building and rent it out, Boyd, whose company is handling the sale for RBS, said the bank is intent on picking its assets “for them to be rationalised”.

Boyd said the potential of the building, one of the oldest in Penang, is enormous as it can be turned into a boutique hotel, art gallery, an office, or a private home.

Interested bidders can get the full set of tender documents for RM250 from CBRE Malaysia.


This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 12, 2014.

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