Twitchy end to 2007 as deals stall

The nervous economic mood has been blamed for a spate of withdrawals by prospective office occupiers from deals in Manchester and Liverpool in recent weeks, according to agents.

One Manchester office agent, who asked not to be named, said: "We've had people trying to chip us down by anything from 20% to 40% thinking we'll give space away in the current climate. But we've said 'no way go and rethink what you're doing'."

In South Manchester, one US corporation has backed out of a 45,000 sq ft freehold acquisition after the group board put a freeze on all new office deals.

Agents were understandably reluctant to embarrass their clients by identifying specific deals that have failed. One that is common knowledge is the Jacobs Engineering requirement for 90,000 sq ft which, after a year of looking, has now been scrapped altogether. Jacobs, recently appointed by Peel Holdings on Media City, had been linked with Kenmore's Jackson House in Sale.

The prospects for 2008 appear no better than 2007 has ended, with one agent calling it "more likely than not" to continue in the current cautious vein.

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