Belfast Telegraph

Theresa May faces bank bosses in Davos as lenders prepare post-Brexit jobs move

Theresa May is facing down Wall Street bank bosses at Davos following news that several lenders are preparing to shift thousands of jobs out of London after Brexit.

Bosses of JP Morgan, HSBC and UBS have all confirmed Britain's decision to scrap single market access will have major implications for their UK operations.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of US bank JP Morgan, who was set to meet Mrs May, told Bloomberg Television: "It looks like there will be more job movement than we hoped for."

The lender employs 16,000 people in the UK, with London hosting its European headquarters, and has previously said around 4,000 jobs could go if Britain loses the right to sell financial services to the EU.

Mr Dimon said that number could rise or fall "depending on negotiations".

Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein told the business broadcaster that New York is "already a bit of a gainer" from Brexit, as the bank eases up on previous plans to shift operations to Britain.

"Operating our business to maximise our global potential - we were trying to get as much into the UK as we could," he said.

"We're slowing down that decision."

But the US investment bank played down reports that the bank may cut London staff in half to around 3,000, while organising transfers to New York and to a new subsidiary in Frankfurt.

In response to the report, Goldman Sachs said: "We continue to work through all possible implications of the Brexit vote.

"There remain numerous uncertainties as to what the Brexit negotiations will yield in terms of an operating framework for the banking industry.

"As a result we have not taken any decisions as to what our eventual response will be."

Banking heads have been speaking to media in Davos, where leaders are gathered for the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Switzerland.

It is where Mrs May is holding private meetings with the bosses of JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, asset manager BlackRock, and Goldman Sachs, according to Sky News, after outlining priorities for Brexit negotiations earlier this week.

Stuart Gulliver, boss of British banking group HSBC, confirmed the bank is on course to move 1,000 jobs from its London office to France, where it already has a full service universal bank after buying up Credit Commercial de France in 2002.

Swiss bank UBS is also expected to shift jobs to the continent. Chairman Axel Weber told the BBC that about 1,000 of its 5,000 employees are currently involved in operations dependent on passporting rights.

Financial firms have been waiting to discover whether the UK can hold on to passporting rights, without which they could face significant barriers when attempting to trade with countries within the European single market.

Barclays' chief executive Jes Staley, meanwhile, confirmed the bank's commitment to Britain.

"We're going to have to make an adjustment to the Brexit move, but it's going to be an adjustment that will be manageable for Barclays, and will not threaten, I think, the centre of London, or London as a centre of finance for Europe, and will not threaten the activities of Barclays in London," Mr Staley told CNBC.

"We are a British bank, we are committed to the United Kingdom, so we'll be fine," he added.

Mrs May said that things would be "different" after Brexit when she was asked to respond to statements from some European leaders that Britain will be poorer after withdrawal from the EU.

The PM told the BBC that she believed a good trade deal would be in the best interests of both the UK and the EU, before adding: "It will be different, we won't be members of the European Union any longer. We will be outside the European Union, but I want to build a strong, strategic partnership with the EU."

Mrs May side-stepped answering whether she was disappointed that major banks were planning to move some jobs out of the UK, but said she had been stressing the "positive" aspects of doing business in the City of London during meetings with major financial organisations.