Sunday 22 April 2018

Bank of America Brexit planners weigh up rapid expansion of Paris trading base

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Laura J Keller

Bank of America has been debating proposals from chief operating officer Tom Montag's subordinates to rapidly build out a European trading hub in Paris, sources have said.

Mr Montag and some of the firm's most senior leaders recently discussed whether to alter a tentative plan to send a few hundred employees to the French capital.

Ideas included radical changes that weren't embraced. As reported in September, the firm is looking to make Paris its new regional base for trading once the UK exits the EU, initially sending roughly 300 people.

One proposal from executives in the corporate and investment banking division, which Mr Montag runs, called for about 600 positions in sales, trading and other operations to be moved swiftly from London mostly to Paris, the people said.

Managers also floated the idea of shifting more staff than the roughly 1,000 who could fit in the Paris office that the bank intends to use, one of the people said.

While Bank of America isn't likely to adopt either of those approaches, they illustrate the uncertainties looming for workers across the industry as executives hash out their response to Brexit.

Global investment banks are poised to move thousands of employees to mainland European cities in case the UK loses passporting rights that let offices in London provide services across the EU. Mr Montag encouraged his subordinates to think boldly and pitch decisive action as they help the bank formulate its strategy.

Executives in his camp, including head of fixed-income sales Sanaz Zaimi, have suggested that a swift expansion in Paris could offer an edge in recruiting, the people said. The city is favoured by foreigners, and France is seeking to lure thousands of well-paying financial jobs by cutting taxes.

Weeks ago, Mr Montag raised some of their ideas while meeting with bank leaders including chief administrative officer Andrea Smith and Sheri Bronstein, the global head of human resources.

Afterwards, the group settled on a more measured approach. That was reflected publicly when Mr Montag addressed investors in New York on November 14. (Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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