Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Goldman Sachs Backs Group Campaigning for U.K. to Stay in EU

  • Bank donated hundreds of thousands to campaign, person says
  • Cameron to speak to business leaders in Davos on Thursday

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to the campaign to keep the U.K. inside the European Union, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The contribution was made to the Britain Stronger in Europe group and is the latest sign that the banking industry is rallying behind the push against so-called Brexit amid concern it would jeopardize London’s role as a global financial center.

“We are not going to discuss individual donations at this stage,” said James McGrory, chief campaign spokesman for the group. “At this stage, we are pleased that we have gathered donations from a wide range of individuals and businesses who believe that Britain is stronger, safer and better off in Europe.”

Goldman Sachs leaders including Chief Executive Office Lloyd Blankfein and President Gary Cohn previously have said it would be best for the U.K. to remain in the EU. Michael DuVally, a company spokesman, declined to comment on the donation, which was reported earlier Wednesday by Sky News.

Opposing Bankers

One of the campaign groups lobbying for the U.K. to quit the 28-nation bloc hit back against the New York-bank’s decision.

“This comes as no surprise to those of us who have said all along the referendum will be a campaign of the British people against the establishment of international bankers, multinational corporate tax dodgers and out-of-touch politicians,” Arron Banks, co-founder of Leave.EU, said in a statement. “If Goldman Sachs had offered Leave.EU six figures we would have told them where to stuff it.”

Prime Minister David Cameron is preparing to address global business leaders on Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He has recently expressed optimism that he’ll be able to strike a deal with fellow EU leaders on renegotiated British membership terms at their next summit in February.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Wednesday became the most senior U.K. cabinet minister to indicate that the referendum may be held as soon as June.

‘Real Loss’

The topic of Brexit has already proved a subject of conversation in Davos with Siemens AG CEO Joe Kaeser urging the U.K. to back continued membership.

“It would be a real loss for a powerful Europe to be built if it was built without the U.K. resources,” he told Bloomberg Television. “It’s all doable, but it would be more desirable if you had the U.K. being a strong part of Europe.”

Goldman Sachs’s intervention in the Brexit debate is just the latest from within the City of London, as the U.K.’s financial district is known. Barclays Plc Chairman John McFarlane told Bloomberg last week that Britain’s financial industry would be damaged if the country left the EU and that the debate already had repelled some foreign investment.

Speaking in his capacity as chairman of TheCityUK, he said a survey of the financial services lobby group’s members found 85 percent want to remain in the EU, while 4 percent favor leaving.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. economist Malcolm Barr said in a report to clients this week that the EU’s discussion on migration as soon as a March summit had made the bank more nervous about the risks surrounding the referendum.