Citigroup European boss to staff: Get ready for a hard Brexit and say goodbye to passporting

Hayley Kirton
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"For planning purposes, we must assume a 'hard' Brexit in which the UK loses its ability to passport into the EU," James Cowles wrote in a message to staff (Source: Getty)

The European boss of banking giant Citigroup today warned London staff they should be prepared for a hard Brexit, including losing access to the EU via passporting.

The words come a day after Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, starting a two-year ticking clock towards Brexit.

In a note obtained by Financial News, James Cowles, the US banking giant's chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, cautioned his employees:

For planning purposes, we must assume a 'hard' Brexit in which the UK loses its ability to passport into the EU. A hard Brexit would require certain changes, including relocating certain client-facing roles to the EU from the UK, and the possible creation of a new broker-dealer entity within the EU.

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However, the banker also stressed London would remain the lender's regional headquarters post-Brexit, and the bank already has significant coverage of operations in 20 out of the 27 EU member states.

Cowles also moved to reassure staff who were EU citizens living in the UK by noting the bank was aware of and acknowledged their concerns.

"While there is no immediate impact, resources will be available to employees to help them to understand any effects on their situation," he added.

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City A.M. reported last October that Citi could move almost 1,000 of its 9,000 UK jobs overseas if the country could not secure passporting, the complex set of which currently allows UK firms to do business in the EEA and vice versa, as part of the Brexit deal.

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