Saturday 25 November 2017

HSBC sticks with Britain but with an eye on Paris move

HSBC’s headquarters in the Canary Wharf area of London. Photo: Bloomberg
HSBC’s headquarters in the Canary Wharf area of London. Photo: Bloomberg

Rachel Armstrong and Lisa Jucca

PARIS, not Dublin, will gain a thousand HSBC jobs if Britain pulls out of the European Union.

The global banking giant could move around 1,000 employees from London to Paris in the event that Britain votes to leave the European Union, the bank's chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, was quoted as saying by Sky News yesterday.

The staff would be moved from HSBC's trading, corporate banking and investment banking units, Mr Gulliver was quoted as saying, with the total number of jobs moving dependent on the terms of the so-called Brexit.

A source with knowledge of the matter confirmed the comments. Paris is already a major financial hub, and easily accessible by train from HSBC's London headquarters.

The plan to possibly move jobs away from London in the event of a British exit from the EU comes just a day after Europe's biggest lender decided to keep its HQ in London.

That followed a 10-month review when a shift to Asia was actively considered.

HSBC has opted to remain in Britain, even with the uncertainty of a possible EU exit hanging over it.

Most major British firms are seriously considering the risk of Britain leaving the EU and many are making contingency plans, according to the head of the Confederation of British Industry lobby group.

Stuart Gulliver's comments represent the most direct statement yet by a chief executive of a major UK-based company on the possible impact on jobs if the British public vote to leave the EU in a referendum.

HSBC confirmed late on Sunday that it will keep its headquarters in Britain, rejecting the option of shifting its centre of gravity back to main profit-generating hub Hong Kong.

The decision by HSBC's board, which Europe's biggest bank said was unanimous, gives a boost to London's status as a global financial centre, under threat since the financial crisis of 2007-09 from tougher regulation and rising costs.

Some investors had encouraged HSBC to consider moving its HQ from Britain, partly because of a tax on banks' global balance sheets brought in after the financial crisis which had cost it $1.1bn (€990m) in 2014.

But British finance minister George Osborne said he would halve the levy and no longer apply it to the overseas assets. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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