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Morgan Stanley said close to picking Frankfurt as new EU hub

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Morgan Stanley is close to picking Frankfurt for its new European Union hub in preparation for Britain's departure from the bloc, two people briefed on the matter said.

[FRANKFURT] Morgan Stanley is close to picking Frankfurt for its new European Union hub in preparation for Britain's departure from the bloc, two people briefed on the matter said.

Not all of the jobs to be moved out of London will go to Frankfurt, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing the private matter. While the broker-dealer business will be based in Frankfurt, asset management operations will be moved to Dublin, the person said. Morgan Stanley currently employs more than 5,000 in London. A spokeswoman for the bank declined to comment.

Frankfurt, Germany's financial centre, offers proximity to the European Central Bank, which supervises EU banks and sets monetary policy for countries that use the euro. The location also provides access to the EU's most populous country and its biggest economy.

Many big international banks already have a significant presence there, and several of them, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Nomura Holdings Inc., plan to expand in Frankfurt as a result of Brexit. Like Morgan Stanley, most banks are likely to opt for a model that spreads jobs across multiple EU countries.

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London has flourished as a hub for global finance in part because firms based in the capital have the right to do business across the 28-nation EU. When the UK quits the bloc, British banks as well as London-based firms from the US, Japan and other non-EU countries stand to lose this "passport" and may need to channel their business through units based in the bloc.

London could lose 10,000 banking jobs as a result of Brexit, think tank Bruegel estimated earlier this year. The lobby group Frankfurt Main Finance is predicting that Frankfurt could win 10,000 jobs. Other banks that may move additional staff to the German city include JPMorgan Chase & Co, Standard Chartered Plc and Citigroup Inc.

There is speculation that Prime Minister Theresa May's electoral setback may lead to a more gentle withdrawal from the EU - one that would leave intact arrangements like membership in the bloc's single market - and a few European politicians have even expressed hopes of avoiding Brexit altogether. But with less than two years to prepare and no assurances of a transitional period to soften the impact, many banks say they can't afford to delay their Brexit decisions.

Morgan Stanley's move to Frankfurt is provisional and depends on Britain's future trade relationship with the EU, one of the people said.

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