Middlesbrough ‘a front runner’ for new bank, as talks continue during pandemic

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Middlesbrough is a front runner for the headquarters for a ground-breaking new bank that would create upwards of 120 high-quality jobs within five years.

Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston has welcomed as “hugely promising” news that prospective bank GBB – to be called GB Bank – may base itself in the town’s unoccupied Centre Square buildings, pictured above.

Set to launch later this year, GBB will be the first new North-East based bank in six years, with a focus on residential and commercial property developers.

With recruitment focusing on North-East talent, the bank expects to initially employ a team of around 60 people including bankers, accountants, admin, marketing, sales, compliance, risk and HR staff.

Positive talks have been held with the mayor and other Middlesbrough Council officials during the coronavirus crisis, with members of the GBB team having previously been given a tour of the impressive Centre Square buildings in the centre of the town.

Mayor Andy Preston said: “Along with council staff, I’ve been liaising with the directors about the prospect of GBB having its headquarters in Middlesbrough for some time now.

“These talks have not stopped during the pandemic because we are planning for the future.

“For the good of the town, it’s something we’re determined to make happen.

“Middlesbrough has played second or third fiddle to Newcastle and Leeds – and everywhere else – for way too long.

“We need strong local businesses and big national businesses to be based in the centre of Middlesbrough to bring high-quality jobs, boost the economy and raise the profile of the town.

“Senior officers such as Kevin Parkes and Tony Parkinson put a lot of effort into this and have clearly impressed a potential investor. The positive energy and actions of key council staff that have allowed us to get to this point deserve praise, whether we win this deal or not.

“I and everyone at the council will do everything we can to persuade GBB to base themselves and their jobs in our great town.

GBB co-founder Stephen Black said: “GBB will be the first specialist property bank with a focus across the UK regions.

“We were hugely impressed with the mayor and his colleagues. They couldn’t have done a better job in selling the town to us.

“We really bought into their enthusiasm and vision for the town, which are things we share in terms of our own vision and enthusiasm for GB Bank.

“Our board and management team will be looking to make a final decision in the next three months, but the quality of Centre Square speaks for itself.”

GB Bank’s chief executive Steve Deutsch added: “We’re looking to employ 60 staff by early next year and more than 120 within five years.

“Other banks to have launched in recent years have started with similar numbers but have quickly grown to create hundreds more jobs and there’s undoubtedly an opportunity to employ significant numbers at GB Bank.

“We’re clearly looking at a range of options, however Middlesbrough offers the right kind of positive, entrepreneurial environment and a supportive local council, so we’re excited by the talks we’ve had with the town’s officials.”

Set to receive its provisional banking licence in the late summer, GBB will provide credit facilities for property developers looking to build new homes, offices, industrial units, student accommodation and hotels across the UK but focused on the North-East, North-West, Yorkshire, Humberside and Scotland.

Focused on “trying to get Britain and the regions building again”, Stephen believes GB Bank can contribute to the North-East region’s post-Covid economic recovery.

“Development finance is currently not well supported in the regions,” he said. “Most of the existing property banks are based in and around London and naturally tend to provide credit to areas they know and are naturally predisposed to lend on their own patch.

“Accordingly, there’s a real need for a new bank for the UK regions and to have one emerge from the North-East would be superb.

“It is a wonderful chance to facilitate more activity right here at home, especially in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.