Barclays to move £160bn of assets from UK to Ireland in preparation for no-deal Brexit

Banking giant gets all-clear from High Court to move clients' money - financial firms expected to shift £800bn by 29 March

Ben Chapman
Wednesday 30 January 2019 20:39
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warns of further market volatility due to no-deal fears

Barclays has been given the all clear by the High Court to shift €190bn (£160bn) of its clients' assets to Ireland as it ramps up preparations for Brexit.

The move which affects around 5,000 clients, can take place after judges approved it on Wednesday.

“As we announced in 2017, Barclays will use our existing licensed EU-based bank subsidiary to continue to serve our clients within the EU beyond March 29 2019 regardless of the outcome of Brexit,” Barclays said.

“Our preparations are well-advanced and we expect to be fully operational by March 29 2019.”

Financial firms are expected to shift at least £800bn out of the UK before Brexit day on 29 March according to figures from EY.

UK tax revenues are expected to take a hit as a result but the size of the impact is not yet known. The move is designed to ensure no disruption for clients in the case of a no-deal Brexit, which would deny UK banks so-called passporting rights which allow them to operate freely across the EU’s single market.

The decision comes after a series of votes in the House of Commons failed to provide clarity on the shape that Brexit will take, with a cliff-edge Brexit still possible in eight weeks' time.

In approving the move, Mr Justice Snowden said in his judgment: “Due to the continuing uncertainty over whether there might be a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, the Barclays Group has determined that it cannot wait any longer to implement the scheme.

“In light of the large volume of business to be transferred, the scheme contains a number of phased dates upon which the transfer of the different types of business, and the business of the branches in Spain, Italy and France, will become effective.

“The overriding requirement, however, is that BBI (Barclays) must be legally and operationally ready to conduct all relevant regulated business with the in-scope clients by no later than March 29 2019, which is the date currently set for Brexit.”

Barclays is also doubling its workforce in Dublin ahead of Brexit from 150 to 300. A host of other banks have shifted some staff and operations from London to Frankfurt, Paris and other EU cities as part of their preparations.

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