Naming places

I’ve made the point previously that owning significant parcels of real estate allows investors to tap into non-traditional income streams that might have historically been overlooked. It has been announced in the press this week that TFL is due to consult the public over potentially changing the name of White Hart Lane tube station. The potential for the name change comes in response to a request from Spurs, in respect of which a premium of c. £15m is being sought. Whilst TFL is in a relatively unique position, other landowners should not ignore their potential to commercialise the naming of their assets. Stadia are obvious examples (e.g. Emirates); as are events venues (e.g. The O2). However, so are any prominent buildings that are publicly recognisable. In retail some physical structures are so closely associated with the operator that they take on their brand (e.g. Harrods) but in the UK, less so elsewhere, we have been more reluctant to name office buildings after their tenants. It is clearly less manageable when the building is multi-let and the other tenants disagree (one of the reasons for the reversion of London’s Salesforce Tower to 110 Bishopsgate). However, for iconic structures on our cities’ skylines, intangible property rights such as their name could be an unfactored form of returns.