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Google shows faith in office with $1 billion London deal

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LONDON (Reuters) -Tech giant Google has spent $1 billion to buy a central London building where it is currently a tenant, showing its confidence in the future of the office as a place to work, the company said on Friday.

Google, which employs 6,400 people in Britain, plans a multi-million pound refurbishment of its offices within the Central Saint Giles development it is buying, close to Covent Garden in central London.

"We have been privileged to operate in the UK for nearly 20 years, and our purchase of the Central Saint Giles development reflects our continued commitment to the country's growth and success," said Ruth Porat, CFO of Google's parent company Alphabet.

Google plans to refit the building so it is adapted for in-person teamwork and has meeting rooms for hybrid working, as well as creating more space for individuals.

The new refurbishment will also feature outdoor covered working spaces to enable work in the fresh air, the company said.

Google said it would eventually have capacity for 10,000 workers at its UK sites, including one being developed in the nearby King's Cross area of London.

"This investment in jobs from Google is a big vote of confidence in the UK as a world-leading tech hub," finance minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.

Google said last month that it was delaying its return-to-office plan globally amid growing concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The Central Saint Giles building had been owned by a joint venture between Legal & General Investment Management Real Assets and Mitsubishi Estate London Limited.

(Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Alistair Smout)

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