Brexit: German bank shelves plan to open UK office until Theresa May provides clear plan

The latest sign that the uncertainty around access to the single market is harming investment

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German bank, Berlin Hyp, has delayed plans to open an office in the UK capital after the Brexit vote, providing evidence how the uncertainty created by the June referendum is impacting banks’ investment plans.

“We have postponed the creation of an office in London until the modalities of the UK’s exit from the European Union have become clear and can be assessed,” the Pfandbrief bank said by e-mail. Berlin Hyp had €27.8 billion (£23.7 billion) of assets at the end of September compared with €28.5 billion at the end of last year.

German lenders, some of which have used their nation’s Pfandbrief legislation to offer cheap credit for British commercial mortgages, may see such activity derailed by Brexit as the law limits loans to properties in the EU and European Economic Area. About 17 per cent of UK commercial-property loans in the first half of the year were advanced by German lenders, according to a survey by Leicester, England-based De Montfort University.

Many banks with European operations in London are reviewing their presence in the capital because they stand to lose their EU passporting rights, according to UBS’ German investment bank head Stefan Winter, who also leads the country’s association of foreign banks. It is unlikely that they will implement their Brexit plans before the UK government officially triggers the withdrawal process, he said.

International businesses may shift as many as 100,000 jobs away from London within two years of the UK officially starting a process to leave the EU because businesses risk losing their passporting rights, according to Jefferies analyst Mike Prew. Rents could fall 8 per cent to 10 per cent over the next 24 months, he said.

“Plan A for banks is to stay in London and move as little as possible,” Deutsche Bank analyst Jochen Moebert said by telephone. “But there will be movements once the uncertainty lifts.”

UK real estate prices may already be dropping at a much faster pace than official reports indicate following the referendum, Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency said last week.