Brexit bye byes: UBS becomes the latest bank to confirm it's considering moving bankers from London

 
Hayley Kirton
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UBS' chief exec said last year the bank might have to move 1,500 jobs out of London
UBS' chief exec said last year the bank might have to move 1,500 jobs out of London (Source: Getty)

UBS has become the latest bank to publicly restate it is planning to moving staff out of London because of Brexit, just a day after the Prime Minister's landmark speech.

Speaking to Bloomberg at Davos, Andrea Orcel, UBS' investment bank president, hinted it was still up in the air what moves the Swiss banking giant would have to make, but it was certain some bankers would need to be moved out of London.

"It will very much depend on the agreement that the UK will reach with the EU," Orcel said. "But, yes, we will have to move bankers."

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As for the question of where, Orcel said there was still some "flexibility" over where to shift London staff to, but added UBS had bases in Frankfurt and Spain which could be suitable.

Although Orcel stressed the final details of Brexit would ultimately dictate what moves the bank needed to make, UBS chief executive Sergio Ermotti warned last September the bank would consider moving up to 1,500 jobs out of the UK.

And, when quizzed on the topic by the BBC today, Axel Weber, UBS' chairman indicated that about 1,000 jobs in London were directly linked to passporting, a complex set of rights which allows UK financial firms to do business in the EEA and vice versa.

Also in an interview at Davos, HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver confirmed the bank was considering moving jobs out of the UK, as around 20 per cent of the bank's revenues stemmed from activities depending on EU legislation.

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The UK's largest bank warned as early as February last year that it could move as many as 1,000 investment banking jobs to Paris if the UK could not secure a suitable solution for passporting as part of the Brexit deal. HSBC chairman Douglas Flint confirmed the bank was still thinking along these lines when he appeared in front of the Treasury Select Committee last week.

Flint also said HSBC was mulling moving bankers preemptively, before the two-year Article 50 period was over. Orcel today said UBS was getting itself in the position where it would be ready to put plans into action once May pulled the Article 50 trigger if the lender felt it needed to do so.

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Orcel also revealed the bank was "anticipat[ing] the worst" in its Brexit contingency planning, with no transition period.

In her Brexit speech yesterday, the Prime Minister promised a "phased process of implementation" would be on the negotiating checklist to avoid a "cliff-edge" scenario.

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