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HSBC is likely to stay based in London, Aberdeen's CEO says

As HSBC prepares to decide which country it should call home, a growing number of its investors want the bank to address a bigger question: what does it really want to be?

[LONDON] HSBC Holdings Plc is likely to stay based in London rather than move its headquarters to Asia, according to Martin Gilbert, chief executive officer of one of the British bank's biggest shareholders.

"The logistics of moving their headquarters out of London are so vast," Gilbert, CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday. "I suspect much as they might want to move their headquarters, they will probably on balance stay here."

Gilbert said he had no knowledge of any choice being made by Europe's largest lender, but Aberdeen would back HSBC's board regardless of the decision. Aberdeen holds 2.3 per cent of HSBC's shares, making them the bank's sixth largest investor, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The bank, which generates most of its earnings in Asia, is weighing a move partly because of increasing taxes and some of the strictest banking regulations in the world. Among the criteria listed as part of its assessment are also economic growth and long-term stability.

HSBC's board delayed a final decision on the headquarters last year, saying it required further information.

HSBC's weighing where to place its headquarters as Britain explores leaving the European Union. Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to hold a referendum by the end of the year.

Separately, Gilbert said that stopping the "stream" of new laws from the EU would be desirable and that a UK vote in favor of leaving the 28-nation bloc would be "inconvenient but would not be too disastrous."