FCA, Hyundai Movin’ on Up with New HQs

Automakers pick pricey digs to call home.

by on Sep.19, 2014

Fiat Chrysler's headquarters in London has an impressive neighbor: the Queen of England. Photo Credit: Buckingham.palace.london.arp

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Hyundai Motor suddenly have one thing in common: a willingness to spend big money for their new headquarters buildings in Great Britain and South Korea.

The two companies recently plunked down cash on for locations that raised eyebrows. Fiat Chrysler (FCA) is putting its international home in the most expensive office district in the world in London’s West End.

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FCA agreed to lease three floors in The Economist Plaza, a building on St James’s Street that also houses The Economist magazine and is a 10-minute walk from Buckingham Palace, according to Bloomberg. The area is home to some of London’s priciest shopping.

The choice is interesting as FCA Chief Sergio Marchionne repeatedly has said the headquarters was solely chosen for tax purposes and is also neutral territory between the Italian carmaker’s former home in Turin and Chrysler’s historic association with Detroit. Marchionne is not known as a clotheshorse, eschewing the suit-and-tie look for comfortable shirt-and-sweater combos.

In Hyundai’s case, it’s decided to go “Gangnam style” with its new HQ. In partnership with other subsidiaries, it bid more than $10 billion for a property in Seoul’s high-priced Gangnam District, beating out Samsung Electronics Co.

The world became familiar with the district’s tony reputation thanks to a hit song – “Gangnam Style” – by Psy, a South Korean rapper, who poked fun at the area’s wealthy residents.

(Fiat shareholders approve merger with Chrysler. For more, Click Here.)

The bid was three times what the property is appraised value, which drew criticism from many Hyundai stockholders. The company’s stock fell 9% after the purchase was announced.

(Click Here for details on Nissan’s denial of plans to curtail its EV program.)

Hyundai attempted to put a positive spin on the purchase by saying the purchase would enhance the company’s image.

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The plans call for the company to construct build a super tall tower named “Global Business Center” for its group headquarters. The maker has 18,000 employees in Seoul, but its current headquarters in southern Gangnam houses just 5,000 people.

The building “is crucial for Hyundai Motor Group to make a leap forward in the global market by improving brand values of Hyundai and Kia,” it said in a statement.

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