HSBC CEO Says Headquarters Decision Could Be Delayed Until 2016

  • Board needs to be `comfortable' with decision' Gulliver says
  • Gulliver says review of domicile `can't slip too far'

HSBC Holdings Plc Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver said the bank probably won’t decide where to locate its headquarters until 2016, later than originally planned, as the board seeks to reach an agreement.

The completion of a review “could slip into next year,” Gulliver said on the sidelines of a conference in London on Friday. “It depends on how long it takes for the board to get comfortable with the decision.” The bank, chaired by Douglas Flint, had earlier said it would reach a conclusion in 2015.

Europe’s largest bank started considering whether to uproot its headquarters from London this year with the board mulling a rising tax burden, tougher regulation and the risk of Britain exiting the European Union in a referendum. A pledge by Chancellor George Osborne in July to reduce a global levy on bank balance sheets was seen at the time as a concession to keep HSBC and Standard Chartered Holdings Plc from moving abroad.

HSBC ’s decision “can’t slip too far,” Gulliver said, without elaborating. The delay may come because of the significance any decision might have for the bank, he added.

HSBC laid out at least 11 criteria for its headquarter review in June, including measures such as future economic growth, long-term stability and the tax system. Any decision may require shareholder and regulatory approval, the bank said at the time.

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