The head of Swiss banking giant UBS says its “worst case scenario” of having to shift 1,000 jobs out of London due to Brexit is looking unlikely.
Chief executive Sergio Ermotti said it planned to tell UK staff “in the next few weeks” where it would move positions as it plans for Britain’s departure from the European Union.
UBS had warned earlier this year that as many as 1,000 of its 5,000 positions in the capital might have to move but Mr Ermotti said this possibility had been reduced in recent months.
The Swiss firm is one of several international lenders to warn that they are making contingency plans to shift jobs to the continent to ensure they can carry on serving European clients.
That is largely due to the likelihood that Britain will lose “passporting” rights enabling financial businesses to sell services freely in Europe.
The UK is seeking a transitional arrangement to avoid a “cliff-edge” change in the way businesses operate – though the City has become increasingly concerned that an agreement on this could come too late to stop contingency plans being triggered.
UBS already has a bank in Frankfurt with the licences needed to serve wealth management and investment banking around Europe, and Mr Ermotti indicated that the question now was how the jobs are shared around the continent.
He said: “We are looking between a couple of countries like Spain or Holland still maybe having, on a branch basis, people operating from those locations under the licence of our Frankfurt-based bank.”
The comments came as UBS reported a 14% rise in net profit for the third quarter to 946m Swiss francs.
They are likely to be seized on by Leave supporters as evidence that the impact of Brexit on business will not be as dire as have been feared.
HSBC is another bank that has warned it could move 1,000 jobs out of London.
Earlier this month, Lloyd Blankfein, boss of Goldman Sachs, signalled that he would be spending a lot more time in Frankfurt as a result of Brexit, in a tweet.
That came after the Wall Street bank, which employs 6,500 people in the UK, signed a lease to increase substantially its office space in Germany’s financial centre.