EU plans moving bank regulator from London as euro zone eyes City business

Sun Jun 26, 2016 7:36pm EDT
 
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By Francesco Guarascio

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The EU is preparing to move its European Banking Authority from London following Britain's vote to leave the Union, EU officials said on Sunday, setting up a race led by Paris and Frankfurt to host the regulator.

Coming a day after Britain's Jonathan Hill resigned and was replaced as EU financial services chief by the Commission's "Mr. Euro" Valdis Dombrovskis, the move underlines how the City of London can expect to be frozen out of EU financial regulation -- and possibly from Europe's capital markets -- depending on the terms of Brexit.

While those who argued for Britain to leave the EU said the financial industry would thrive without EU shackles, some of its biggest employers including JPMorgan (JPM.N: Quote) are scouring Europe to find new locations for their traders, bankers and financial licenses.

The EBA, whose 159 London employees write and coordinate banking rules across the bloc, is expected to be relocated "soon", two EU officials told Reuters.

All European Union agencies are based in member states. EBA chairman Andrea Enria said before Thursday's referendum that the watchdog, founded in 2011 to improve regulation after the global financial crisis, would have to move if Britain chose to leave.

An EBA spokeswoman said on Sunday that the European Union will have to decide on relocation and in the meantime the agency would continue to operate in London.

Other European capitals are keen for a slice of Britain's financial services industry which contributed 190 billion pounds ($280 billion) to the economy in 2014, roughly 12 percent of economic output. Ireland said on Friday it had been in touch with firms considering relocating.

The industry employs 2.2 million people in Britain including around 90 percent of U.S. investment banks' European staff and 78 percent of capital markets activity by the other 27 members of the EU taking place in the UK.   Continued...

 
A Union flag flies next to the flag of the European Union in Westminster, London, Britain June 24, 2016.    REUTERS/Toby Melville