News Corp to sell Wapping site

News Corporation is to sell its Wapping site, ditching plans made three years ago to redevelop the newspaper HQ as a campus hosting staff from a number of its companies.

Wapping: News Corporation set to sell the 15-acre site
Wapping: News Corporation set to sell the 15-acre site

The company has put the decision down to "current market conditions", with a News International spokeswoman indicating the costs associated with remodelling Wapping "were not insignificant".

The plans to redevelop the site had included housing staff from some of its other companies, such as book publisher Harper Collins, MySpace, Dow Jones and Fox, under the same roof as News International.

Staff at News International, the newspaper publishing arm of News Corp, will all relocate to offices at nearby Thomas More Square by the end of the year.

News International took out a 10-year lease on offices at Thomas More Square in 2009, and, according to a spokeswoman, has taken extra space in the past year.

The majority of staff have already transferred as part of a process that began in 2010 with The Times.

News International's defunct Sunday red-top, The News of the World, had moved to Thomas More Square in late 2010.

The sale of the 15-acre site could generate a substantial amount of money for News International, which is expected to begin a round of redundancies from its 380-strong commercial team within days.

In the latest financial results, for the year to 27 June 2010, News Group Newspapers Limited, publisher of The Sun and the News of the World, recorded that pre-tax profits more than doubled to more than £88m, while Times Newspapers almost halved its losses to £45m.

News International unsuccessfully attempted to sell Wapping in 2008, with a price tag of up to £200m, before settling on the redevelopment plans.

Its requirements for the site had been changed by the closure of the print works earlier that year, after the construction of a new generation plant at Broxbourne.

The planned exit from Wapping comes 25 years after Rupert Murdoch moved his newspaper operations there from Fleet Street, facing down opposition from print workers' unions.

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