Morgan Stanley Said to Weigh Moving 300 U.K. Jobs on Brexit

Updated on
  • U.S. bank says it has European options, no decision made
  • Dublin, Frankfurt said considered for enlarged European hub

Morgan Stanley is scouting for office space in Frankfurt and Dublin for an enlarged European Union hub following the U.K.’s vote to leave the political bloc, according to three people with knowledge the matter.

The bank may initially move about 300 workers to one of the cities, the people said without giving a time frame. They asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public.

“Our focus is on ensuring that we can continue to service our clients whatever the Brexit outcome,” Hugh Fraser, a spokesman for Morgan Stanley, said by e-mail. “Our strong franchise and material presence in Europe gives us many options, and we will adapt as the details of Brexit become clear. Given all of this, no decisions have yet been made.”

International banks have begun looking to move jobs out of the U.K. after Prime Minister Theresa May said she plans to pull Britain out of the single market. Global banks in London may have to shift 1.8 trillion euros ($1.9 trillion) of assets to the continent after Brexit is completed, putting as many as 30,000 U.K. jobs at risk, according to Brussels-based research group Bruegel.

Before the vote, Bloomberg News reported that Morgan Stanley would likely move 1,000 of about 6,000 U.K. employees out of the country in the event of Brexit. Morgan Stanley President Colm Kelleher said the firm would likely move its local headquarters to either Dublin or Frankfurt. Bank executives said after the referendum that New York would likely be the big winner from Brexit as U.S. firms would probably allocate headcount away from Europe altogether.

Dublin and Frankfurt are among a number of European cities pitching for business from U.K.-based banks, drugmakers and asset managers after the referendum. Germany’s financial regulator offered to allow most banks that move operations there to keep current models for setting capital requirements for as long as two years, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month.

Paris is pitching itself as the only global financial center left in the EU after Brexit, Dublin is stressing that its laws and regulations are similar to Britain, and Madrid is emphasizing its lower costs for office space and labor.

Losing so-called passporting rights could result in a reduction of more than 25 percent in the U.K.’s total financial services trade, the London School of Economics said in its Growth Commission Report on Thursday.

To read a QuickTake explainer on passporting, click here

“Brexit poses a threat to the pre-eminence of the City of London,” the group said, referring to the capital’s financial district. “The major threat for financial services trade is the loss of passporting rights.”

(Updates with LSE report in final two paragraphs.)
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