Royal Bank of Scotland is planning to build the largest trading floor in the world and is awaiting board approval to start construction.
The plan was disclosed by Jodi Rell, governor of Connecticut, who revealed that RBS and its subsidiary RBS Greenwich Capital were proposing to consolidate their U.S. operations and relocate their U.S. headquarters to a new $400m, 500,000 sq. ft. office in Stamford.
This would mean moving 550 employees from New York and generate 600 extra jobs from the continued growth of the bank. In addition, 700 RBS employees would relocate from the Greenwich office to Stamford.
"This exciting project would bring 1,150 new jobs to Connecticut," said Rell, who is supporting the plan. It also has the backing of Dan Malloy, mayor of Stamford, who said construction could start as early as February on a site which is across the road from UBS's offices in Stamford and could be ready for occupancy in early 2009.
The state's Department of Economic and Community Development will provide up to $100m in tax credits to support the project and the Connecticut Development Authority will provide a sales tax exemption on materials used in the construction, subject to approval by the CDA board.
Last month, the Connecticut state legislature's finance committee decided not to object to the tax credits, clearing the way for the aid. However, an RBS spokesman said no final decision had been made on the project.
"Various approvals, including internal approval, are needed. The most important is the board approval that needs to be obtained," he said, adding that no timetable had been agreed.
UBS's trading floor in Stamford is understood to the world's largest, covering 103,000 sq. ft., approximately the size of two football fields.
RBS needs to move because the lease on its Greenwich site is up for renewal. This has prompted it to consider bringing together RBS Greenwich and the corporate banking business in New York, although the bank spokesman said no decision had been reached on the size or location of the new facility.
Should it be as large as expected, it would suggest a change of direction for Sir Fred Goodwin, chief executive of RBS. One senior banker said: "Fred hates investment banking and says he's not going anywhere near it but this sounds very much like an investment bank to me."