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[DUBAI] JPMorgan Chase & Co plans to move hundreds of London-based bankers to expanded offices in Dublin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg as it prepares for the UK to lose easy access to the European Union's single market after Brexit, the firm's head of investment banking said.
"We are going to use the three banks we already have in Europe as the anchors for our operations," Daniel Pinto said in an interview Tuesday in Riyadh, referring to the New York-based firm's local entities. "We will have to move hundreds of people in the short term to be ready for day one, when negotiations finish, and then we will look at the longer-term numbers."
Global banks are preparing to move some London-based operations into new or expanded bases inside the EU after British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the formal mechanism for quitting the 28-nation bloc. Before the June referendum, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon told UK employees that as many as 4,000 could be relocated in the event of Brexit. In January, he said that number could be higher - or lower - depending on how the government's negotiations played out.
"We have to plan for a scenario where there is no UK-EU passporting deal, and we have to move a substantial portion of our business to continue serving our European clients," Mr Pinto said. "We'll have to wait to see what kind of deal can be achieved and see what we need to do from there."
JPMorgan is just the latest bank to flesh out its plans for Brexit as the countdown ticks away toward Britain's March 2019 withdrawal from the bloc. Deutsche Bank AG said last week it may move 4,000 staff from London, Barclays Plc said it will activate its contingency plan within six months, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc said it would likely begin relocating positions next year.
Frankfurt and Dublin are the favoured destinations. Standard Chartered Plc and Barclays are considering the Irish capital for their EU base, while Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are weighing Germany's financial hub. Luxembourg is proving popular with insurers and asset managers, with insurance giant American International Group Inc saying on March 8 that it plans to open an operation there.
JPMorgan is already scouting for office space in Dublin and Frankfurt, Bloomberg News reported in March. The lender may lease 50,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet of space and wants flexibility from landlords to shrink or expand, depending on what deal Ms May secures.
London could lose 10,000 banking jobs and a further 20,000 roles in financial services, according to the Bruegel think tank, while other estimates range from as little as 4,000 to as many as 232,000 jobs.
Separately, Mr Pinto also said he was bullish on the Middle East and North Africa, where the bank plans to add to its 200 staff and build its businesses in payment processing, asset custody services and investment banking. Mr Pinto was speaking on the sidelines of Euromoney's conference in Saudi Arabia, which has embarked on an unprecedented series of reforms as it looks to diversify the economy from oil.
"Our business in this region will grow along with this reform process, and I'm bullish on emerging markets in general," said Mr Pinto, who was one of the conference's keynote speakers. "We are well positioned in this region, Asia and Latin America. Where there is a combination of faster growth and underdeveloped financial markets, we can be a big part of that process."
JPMorgan was among banks hired by the Saudi government for a US$9 billion international Islamic bond sale and also worked on the kingdom's debut sovereign debt issue in October, which raised US$17.5 billion.