Citigroup plans new operations away from London after Brexit

US bank in talks with Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Netherlands in search for new European base once UK leaves EU. Citigroup has set out 25 criteria to weigh up which financial centre in the European Union will house the new operation it expects to set up as a result of Brexit.

The US bank, which employs 9,000 people in the UK, has been in discussions with the authorities in Ireland, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands as potential locations for the new operation it is preparing in anticipation of losing access to the remaining 27 members of the EU once the UK leaves the trading bloc.

James Cowles, who runs Citi’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said a decision would be made in the first half of the year. He told a conference in Dublin he thought many other financial firms with London operations would be working to a similar timescale.

The City is rife with speculation that the triggering of article 50 – which is planned for March and will signal the formal negotiations to leave the EU – will lead to major US, Japan and Swiss banks in the UK implementing their Brexit contingency plans. The race is on among financial centres in the EU to lure any business lost by the City in the Brexit fallout.

Cowles said the criteria would be used to help the bank, which employs 19,000 staff across the EU, decide which would be the ideal location to keep operating smoothly after Brexit.

Among the factors that will be considered are the complexities of the legal system, local infrastructure and each city’s capacity to provide suitable housing and schools for the employees and families being relocated.

“We will be making a decision in the first half of this year, it’s a decision that every bank has to make in the first six months of this year,” Reuters quoted Cowles as telling the European Financial Forum in Dublin.

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