Gathering one’s staff in one place and modern premises, saving costs at the same time – this growing tendency among large financial institutions has significantly altered Prague’s office space market. Large banks’ headquarters changed their location. From and to where have the big bank headquarters gone? Join us on a tour through financial Prague…
We begin our brief excursion on a Prague street called Na Příkopě, at the premises of the Czech National Bank (CNB). They actually consist of two buildings, the Roith building from 1935–1942 and the Commodity Exchange building, originally from 1894. Both underwent reconstruction in 1997–2001, which cost almost 5 billion Czech crowns, a record sum at that time.
Theoretically, CNB’s governor and Komerční banka’s directors may have eyed each other through a window for a number of years, as Komerční banka has its official headquarters just opposite CNB’s premises. But the majority of its employees have transferred to Václavské náměstí and Nové Butovice this year as the bank is planning to sell its premises on Na Příkopě, an issue discussed on the market since the beginning of this year.
Československá obchodní banka left its premises near CNB already in 2007, moving to a new office building in Radlice, built by architect Josef Pleskot and meeting high environmental construction and energy standards. The bank is so happy with this location that it has already commenced the construction of another office building in this area. The original ČSOB headquarters at Na Příkopě 14 have been transformed into a business centre housing the largest toy shop in the Czech Republic – Hamleys – since 2015.
UniCredit Bank abandoned its premises in the vicinity of the Czech National Bank in 2011, trading a protected heritage site building (formerly the seat of Živnobanka) for the seventeen-floor Philadelphia building in Michle, which is close to the headquarters of MONETA Money Bank, which left Hybernská street in downtown Prague in 2003.
Prague 4 (in particular Pankrác and Budějovická) seems to be the most attractive area for banks and their registered offices, as the biggest financial institutions as well as the largest corporations have their premises there. To illustrate, four of the thirteen corporations making up the Prague Stock Exchange PX Index have their seats here.
Another bank that moved from Národní to Prague 4 (near the Budějovická metro station) is Česká spořitelna, which is also considering the construction of a single building for all its head office employees. This indicates that the time when financial institutions had their headquarters for decades at one place is over.
Raiffeisenbank has its headquarters closer to Prague’s centre than Česká spořitelna. In 2008, it moved to the City Tower in Pankrác, the highest office building in Prague, abandoning their original premises on Vodičkova street.
Approaching Prague’s centre on the main thoroughfare (magistrála), we can see the headquarters of Česká pojišťovna in Pankrác, to which the largest insurance company moved from an art nouveau building on Spálená street.
Downtown Prague has lost some of its attractiveness as a result of the big banks moving their headquarters. Nevertheless, many entities remain: 20 banks and cooperative savings associations, 11 investment companies, 12 insurance companies, one reinsurance company, the stock exchange, the Czech Ministry of Finance and the above mentioned Czech National Bank.
Financial institutions’ headquarters have always represented the top architectural designs of their time. Whether we can say that about today is questionable: I will leave this for you to contemplate. I would just like to mention one, in my opinion, extraordinary construction in Karlín, which is Main Point, the Vienna Insurance Group ČR (VIG ČR) headquarters in which Kooperativa and Česká podnikatelská pojišťovna have their registered offices and which was awarded the World’s Best Office Building title at the 2012 MIPIM property trade fair.
Prague 8 itself (in particular the Karlín and Florenc areas) is becoming increasingly popular among financial institutions, which is demonstrated by the above Main Point and the fact that the third largest number of financial institutions are located in this part of Prague, after Prague’s centre and Prague 4. Its position may further be strengthened through the construction projects currently taking place in the vicinity of Palmovka.
* The overview of the Prague locations of selected financial institutions has been prepared based on information provided by the Czech National Bank.