An ambitious project to launch Scotland’s first stock exchange since the 1970s has taken another step forward after securing a base for its headquarters in Edinburgh.
The proposed exchange, which is due to launch later this year, will have its HQ at 39 George Street in the heart of the capital having signed an initial four-year lease with Crown Estate Scotland for some 7,800 square feet of office space.
Dubbed Project Heather, the stock exchange plans recently gained the support of Scottish Enterprise via a six-figure regional selective assistance grant, following a successful fundraising coordinated via business advisory firm AAB.
The HQ office accommodation, which is spread over two floors, is said to provide “ample space for further expansion of the team”, with senior appointments to be announced shortly.
In addition to housing the main offices of the exchange, 39 George Street is intended to become “a focal point for collaboration among partners of Project Heather to help change the way capital markets operate to better benefit the whole of society”.
Representative offices in Scotland’s other cities will follow, the project’s backers added.
Tomas Carruthers, chief executive and founder of Project Heather, said: “We look forward to establishing a physical hub for our brand of 21st century finance. We are also pleased to be working with Crown Estate Scotland as a landlord, an organisation which shares our values of social and environmental sustainability.”
Lynne Higgins, head of finance and commercial at Crown Estate Scotland, said: “It’s fitting that the home of the new Scottish Stock Exchange will be in Crown Estate Scotland’s George Street property.
“As well as the benefits our prime city centre property offers up, Project Heather’s focus on impact investment aligns with our own strategic focus on managing assets to deliver wider, positive change. We’re looking forward to working with them in the coming years.”
Cameron Stott, director at property firm JLL, who advised Project Heather, said: “39 George Street is a prestigious address and an ideal location for the establishment of the stock exchange. There are many synergies between the parties; both of whom moved swiftly to secure the letting which is proving to be crucial in an increasingly tight commercial property market.”
Stewart McMillan, partner at Cushman and Wakefield, who advised Crown Estate Scotland, said: “There has been significant office letting activity on George Street in recent times and this commitment is a further endorsement of Edinburgh’s core city centre as an attractive place for business.”
In March it emerged that Anderson Anderson & Brown (AAB), the accountancy and business advisory firm, has helped secure a “significant” equity investment to support the launch of the exchange. Brian McMurray and Stuart Cooper of AAB worked with Carruthers and the project team to deliver advice.
In late 2018, the project agreed a partnership with one of the world’s largest stock exchange platforms, Euronext, to run the exchange on its Optiq platform.