Wall Street banks are considering moving some of their London-based operations to Ireland amid concerns that the United Kingdom may one day exit the European Union, the Financial Times reported.
Sources close to Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley told the newspaper that they consider Ireland a preferred location for some of their European business as they prepare for the eurozone’s impending banking union that threatens to isolate Britain.
“I’m frankly looking at moving some activities to Ireland,” a senior UK-based manager of a Wall Street bank was quoted as saying. “I think the Irish central bank and government would welcome this. It is not so much Brexit, more about legal entity optimization.”
Most US and Asian banks have chosen to base their main European operations in Britain, giving them an automatic passport to carry out their services across all 28 countries in the eurozone.
But senior US banking executives said the UK was unlikely to be granted the same “passporting” rights if it left the EU. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to hold a referendum on a renegotiated EU membership if his Conservative party wins next May’s election, according to the newspaper.
Britain, which hosts more than 250 foreign banks, generated a financial services trade surplus of US$71 billion, about a third of which came from trade with the EU, the report said, citing data from financial lobby group TheCityUK.
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