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MassMutual said seeking new London HQ for revived Barings brand

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(Bloomberg) –Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. is seeking a new London headquarters for its Barings asset-management unit, according to two people familiar with the plan.

The unit, which completed a four-way merger last month and adopted the historic Barings name, manages about $275 billion of assets. It has appointed broker GM Real Estate to find an office with as much as to 120,000 square feet (11,150 square meters) of space in central London, where it will bring together staff from three locations, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Related: MassMutual seeks asset-management deals ‘constantly,’ CEO says

“We can confirm we’re in the very early phase” of consolidating in London, Alison Dyson, global head of communications for Barings, said by e-mail. “The decision follows the four-way merger with Barings, Babson Capital, Cornerstone Real Estate and Wood Creek Capital Management under the Barings brand,” she said. A spokesman for GM Real Estate declined to comment.

About 1.33 million square feet of office space was leased in the City of London financial district in the third quarter. That’s down from about 2 million square feet in the same period last year, according to broker Savills Plc, as uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote damped demand.

Barings was established in London in 1762 and collapsed in 1995 after fraudulent trading by broker Nick Leeson. Dutch lender ING Groep NV bought the bank for 1 pound ($1.22) before selling the asset-management unit, and the Barings brand, to MassMutual in 2005.