HSBC ready to move 1,000 bankers to Paris on ‘Brexit’: CEO says

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HSBC Hold­ings Plc Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Stu­art Gul­liver said the bank would prob­a­bly move about 1,000 in­vest­ment bankers to Paris if Bri­tain de­cided to leave the Euro­pean Union, in one of the most de­tailed con­tin­gency plans re­vealed ahead of a ref­er­en­dum.

Some of the 5,000 jobs in HSBC's global bank­ing and mar­kets unit, which houses se­cu­ri­ties and trad­ing op­er­a­tions, would shift to Paris, Gul­liver said in an in­ter­view on Mon­day. While an out­come in fa­vor of Brexit would have a "sig­nif­i­cant im­pact" on the in­vest­ment-bank­ing divi­sion, it wouldn't af­fect the con­sumer busi­ness, he said.

Banks ex­ec­u­tives have warned that a vote in fa­vor of Brexit would cause com­pa­nies to cut in­vest­ment in the UK and move jobs else­where. Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, who faces euro-skep­tic sen­ti­ment in his party as well as the coun­try, has pledged to hold a vote on the U.K.'s mem­ber­ship of the 28na­tion bloc by the end of next year, and is cur­rently ne­go­ti­at­ing a re­vised deal. "It's in Bri­tain's eco­nomic in­ter­est to re­main in a re­formed EU, and that is a for­mal po­si­tion," Gul­liver said.

Michael Rake, chair­man of BT Group Plc and for­mer deputy chair­man at Bar­clays Plc, said last month that Brexit has al­ready caused a loss of in­vest­ment in Bri­tain and the de­vel­op­ment could ac­cel­er­ate if it looks like the coun­try will vote to leave. Bar­clays Chair­man John McFarlane said a ref­er­en­dum in fa­vor would leave the City of Lon­don's fi­nan­cial district in a "sig­nif­i­cantly worse" po­si­tion.

Bri­tish stocks could fall 15 per­cent on a vote to leave the EU with a bas­ket of do­mes­ti­cally fo­cused com­pa­nies drop­ping as much as 26 per­cent, an­a­lysts at Deutsche Bank AG in­clud­ing Ge­orge Buck­ley wrote in a note dated Fri­day.

"It de­pends on what the terms of an exit were and if they were to ne­go­ti­ate a pass­port for fi­nan­cial ser­vices," Gul­liver said. "There would be a pe­riod of great un­cer­tainty and dis­rup­tion while the mar­kets waited to see what the terms of the ne­go­ti­ated exit would be." Gul­liver spoke af­ter HSBC opted to keep its head­quar­ters in Lon­don, end­ing 10 months of de­lib­er­a­tions over whether to move abroad.

Mean­while, HSBC Hold­ings Plc recom­mit­ted its fu­ture to Lon­don, end­ing 10 months of de­lib­er­a­tions over whether to move its head­quar­ters, af­ter se­cur­ing con­ces­sions from the UK govern­ment on regulation and taxes.

The shares rose. Europe's largest bank said it will con­tinue its 23-year stay in the U.K. cap­i­tal af­ter its board, led by Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Stu­art Gul­liver and Chair­man Dou­glas Flint, con­vened there on Sun­day. The de­ci­sion was unan­i­mous, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the bank.

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