Left see law firm at Elbtower in conflict of interest
The planned Elbtower in Hamburg will one day be the third tallest skyscraper in Germany – a mega project that will not only cause a lot of work for construction specialists, but also for lawyers. However, the left consider a law firm to be problematic.
DThe left-wing citizenship faction sees the law firm commissioned by the municipal Hafen City GmbH (HCH) for the Elbtower project as having a conflict of interest. The law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer not only works for HCH, but also elsewhere for the Elbtower investor Signa, said the spokeswoman for urban development for the left-wing faction, Heike Sudmann. “As such, she will avoid anything that could affect future business opportunities.”
In response to a small question from the parliamentary group, the Senate confirms that the law firm, according to them, advised the Signa Group on the purchase of a real estate portfolio in Frankfurt and Rotterdam. In addition, she then supported the group from her Amsterdam office in 2020 with the sale of the Rotterdam property. “These are issues that have no connection to the Elbtower in terms of content,” emphasized the Senate.
Signa Real Estate – it belongs to the Signa holding company of the Austrian billionaire René Benko – wants to build the third tallest skyscraper in Germany with 65 floors and a height of 245 meters in Hamburg. The building permit for this has now been granted. However, the citizenship made the transfer of the property to Signa subject to conditions such as secure financing and a certain occupancy rate.
Some tenants are known
So far, the Nobu hotel chain, the International Workplace Group (IWG) and the Hamburg Commercial Bank (HCOB) have been known as future tenants in the Elbtower. According to the Senate, Freshfields supported HCOB in leasing their future rental space in the Elbtower. However, the actual legal advice was provided by another law firm. Freshfields also pointed out that she worked exclusively for HCOB in the case. The Signa Group, which bought the previous HCOB headquarters, was the opposing contracting party.
The left considers the fact that Freshfields is now supposed to support HCH in examining the pre-letting contracts for the Elbtower to be a problem. After all, Freshfields was involved in bringing about at least one of these contracts, namely with HCOB. “So the law firm should review its own work. Does the city seriously believe that the law firm can judge objectively?” said Sudmann.