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The office sector is some distance away from improving, with vacancies on the rise and no recovery expected soon. At the top end large companies are still taking up premium commercial space, but this demand stems mostly from businesses that are consolidating and from international groups seeking a base in SA while they service the continent in general. There has been consolidation within large groups such as chemicals company Sasol and health-care group Discovery in the past few years. Both have moved their operations from four or five offices across Gauteng to single, high-end trophy offices in Sandton. Both now operate out of offices that are valued at billions of rand. More than 5,000 Discovery employees moved into a new, 112,000m² office building at the end of last year. SA’s largest property company, Growthpoint Properties, which owns 55% of the building, says the total development cost of phases one and two of the building was about R3.4bn. That is more than Sasol’s mega-offic...

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