Guiding Allianz to its new Benelux headquarters
In 2012, the decision was made to integrate Allianz Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands into one entity to be known as Allianz Benelux, which would also bring together all Allianz affiliates located in Belgium. This was the ideal moment to look in to the idea of a new – now Allianz Benelux – headquarters.
While individual businesses would serve their own markets, there would be a number of shared services hosted at the HQ in Brussels, making easy access to the site paramount. It was also the ideal moment to create a brand new building, well located and attractive for employees.
The Allianz Benelux Board opted for an approach that would minimise the risk as much as possible, while still finding the optimal solution. That first meant finding an external advisor that could help devise a strategy, prepare the approach, compare candidates and support the selection process.
PwC had already proven our advisory services by supporting Allianz with due diligence activities on its real estate portfolio over a number of years. In addition, we’d identified the fiscal and tax implications of a number of projects, demonstrating our deep tax and legal expertise, which together made PwC the ideal advisor.
Based on our reputation for accurately appraising properties, Allianz asked for valuations for the current premises in three circumstances:
“As is” and with no move by Allianz in Belgium
Refurbishment of the building with Allianz in Belgium moving out while work is undertaken and back in once completed
Sell the building and relocate
After having valued the three options and contacted owners of adjacent sites willing to let offices to Allianz for a period covering a possible refurbishment of the existing headquarters, Allianz eventually opted for the third scenario.
Together with Alllianz, we created an inventory of availabilities for new sites available on the market and identified the main players with the necessary technical and financial capacity – to make the project as risk free as possible - that Allianz should approach to propose solutions for selling the existing property and providing a new site for the headquarters.
Allianz was careful to keep the two parts of the transaction entirely separate with no link made between a candidate’s willingness to take over the existing building and their solution to provide a new property. Although working with one party would clearly make the transactions simpler.
The neutral position taken by PwC and the integrity everyone involved in the project showed helped legitimise the process and project internally. It gave our board confidence that not only had we selected an advisor we could trust, but one that was looking to make sure we benefited from the most optimal solution for our business, in its current form and going forward.
Allianz Benelux’s new, state-of-the-art headquarters – due to be completed at the end of 2019 - will be situated next to Brussels’ Gare du Nord station, offering the much-needed easy access by public transport. The company’s move to the new location will imply the sale of its current site at the price agreed at the time of the transaction.
The ultra-modern building will feature the latest technologies to support employees’ work, and attract much-needed new hires. Allianz is taking the opportunity to introduce a new activity-based way of working which is aimed at not only encouraging greater cooperation, but will help increase efficiency and make optimal use of office space.
Allianz had the opportunity to see the concept working at PwC Luxembourg’s offices. The company will also make great efficiency savings as the building will be highly sustainable and have high level BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) certification.
The stunning 18-story glass construction will be a notable feature on the landscape offering significant brand visibility for Allianz, which is ideally timed with its increasing focus on being top of mind for insurance with end customers.