EU referendum result: Big banks fail to repeat threat to move jobs out of UK in event of Brexit

HSBC and Goldman Sachs had publicly threatened to move some operations out of the UK in the event of a Brexit vote 

Ben Chu
Friday 24 June 2016 08:21 BST
HSBC had previously said it could switch up to 1,000 jobs to Paris if Britain voted to exit the EU
HSBC had previously said it could switch up to 1,000 jobs to Paris if Britain voted to exit the EU

HSBC and Goldman Sachs – two major global banks that had publicly threatened to move some operations out of the UK in the event of a Brexit vote – have this morning declined to reiterate such plans.

The omission could be seized upon by the Leave camp as a sign that the firms – and other corporations were bluffing about jobs losses in order to support the Remain vote in the run-up to the poll. Stuart Gulliver, HSBC’s chief executive, told Sky News in February that Brexit could see 20 per cent of its 5,000 London investment bankers moved out of London to Paris.

Goldman Sachs also issued several warnings that it would be likely to move some staff out of the City if the UK voted to quit the 28-member bloc. But this morning Douglas Flint, HSBC’s chair, emphasised the bank’s “commitment to British businesses, customers and staff,” adding that it “remains undiminished” despite the vote.

Asked about the February comments from Mr Gulliver, a source at HSBC said there was no clarity on the UK’s future trade relations with Europe. “We don’t know what’s happening,” the source said.

Mark Carney addresses EU referendum result

Goldman Sachs also struck an emollient tone. “We respect the decision of the British electorate and have been focused on planning for either referendum outcome for many months,” said the Wall Street bank’s US-based chair and chief executive Lloyd Blankfein.

“Goldman Sachs has a long history of adapting to change, and we will work with relevant authorities as the terms of the exit become clear. Our primary focus, as always, remains serving our clients’ needs.” A source at the bank said that there would be no “immediate change” in its staffing and that any future moves would “depend on the terms of [the UK’s] exit”.

A central benefit for overseas banks that have subsidiaries in the City of London is that these firms have access to the EU market through a passport. There have been warnings that this passport would be scrapped if the UK left the EU, giving foreign banks an incentive to move their European headquarters from London to mainland Europe.

Another US bank that said UK-based jobs could go in the event of a Brexit vote was JP Morgan, which has more than 16,000 UK employees. “It is my opinion that it is a terrible deal for the British economy and jobs,” said JP Morgan’s boss Jamie Dimon earlier this month. “I don’t know if that means a thousand jobs, 2,000 jobs [could go], it could be as many as 4,000, and it would be both jobs all around the UK.” JP Morgan could not immediately be reached for comment on the UK referendum result and the bank’s likely response.

The Japanese carmaker Nissan, which has 8,000 staff across the UK and a large plant in Sunderland, had cautioned that Brexit could imperil future investment. “Each future investment opportunity will be taken on a case by case basis, just as it is now,” said its chief executive Carlos Ghosn in February. Nissan did not comment today when contacted by The Independent.

Rolls-Royce, which said Brexit would pose a risk to investment earlier this month, said today the medium- and long-term effect of Britain's departure from the European Union would depend on the relationships established between the UK, the EU and the rest of the world in the coming years.

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