UBS Said to Be Leaning Toward Frankfurt for EU Trading Hub

Updated on
  • Bank said to have talked with regulator on boosting presence
  • CEO Ermotti had said that Frankfurt was ‘location of choice’

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UBS Group AG is leaning toward Frankfurt for its trading headquarters inside the European Union after Brexit, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.

The Swiss firm’s investment bank employs about 4,800 bankers globally and could move 250 or more jobs out of London to Frankfurt and other European locations, two of the people briefed on the deliberations said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. UBS has notified the German regulator that it may increase its business in Frankfurt, the people said. No decision has yet been made and the numbers could still change, they said.

Frankfurt has emerged as the biggest winner in the fight for London-based investment-banking jobs that may have to be relocated to new hubs inside the EU in preparation for the U.K.’s exit in 2019. Standard Chartered, Morgan Stanley and Nomura Holdings Inc. are all expanding their presence in the city.

The bank, which has yet to make a final decision, has also discussed creating several hubs across the EU, two people said. The bank declined to comment, as did the German regulator, known as BaFin.

Shortlisted Locations

Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti said earlier this year that Frankfurt was “a location of choice.” The CEO said he was also considering locations including Amsterdam and Madrid and would make a decision by the end of summer. Investment banking head Andrea Orcel has said that UBS has shortlisted a number of locations including the Spanish capital.

Banks are still examining the potential costs of Brexit as negotiations for the departure of the U.K. continue. While companies want to be close to clients and are also factoring in quality of life and education in cities where they may be moving to, regulators are urging them to have as many of their assets in one jurisdiction as possible .

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Thursday that Britain is refusing to acknowledge its financial obligations and wants a deal that’s impossible to achieve. Talks between the EU and the U.K. ended in stalemate after this week’s discussions.

Barnier also slammed the U.K. for seeking to “take back control” by setting its own rules, while also having those standards and regulations recognized automatically in the EU. “This is simply impossible,” he said.

UBS last year merged its European wealth-management operations into a European entity based in Frankfurt which operates branches throughout the continent. The entity has licensing to offer services including deposit taking, financial advisory, trading services and some investment banking advisory business, according to a regulatory filing.

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