UBS expects to move about 250 people from London as a consequence of Brexit, far less than the 1,000 it initially feared, because it thinks it will be able to keep most of its traders in the City, according to people familiar with the situation.
Sergio Ermotti, the bank’s chief executive, said on Friday that it was becoming “more and more unlikely” that UBS would have to move as many people as it initially thought, because of “regulatory and political clarifications” in recent months.
He did not specify how many of its 5,000 London workers were now likely to move, or what the regulatory and political clarifications were.
A person familiar with UBS’s discussions said that the figure moving now looked closer to the 250 range, and that the clarifications were that UBS expects to be able to book its trades “back to back” in London and another EU location.
That would mean that it does not have to move its traders from London. The person stressed that there was no final decision, and that things could still change as the UK and the EU go through protracted exit negotiations.
The EU’s banking watchdog the European Banking Authority (EBA) has warned that it will not allow banks to use shell companies or brass plates in EU countries to retain single market access for businesses that remain essentially UK-based.
UBS has all of the licences it needs for its pan-EU business in its Frankfurt-based bank, but is still deliberating between Frankfurt, Madrid and Amsterdam as destinations for the investment bankers and support people who will move.
Mr Ermotti said on Friday that a decision would be taken in a “few weeks”, but insiders said there would not be a public announcement.
Other banks have also guided far lower Brexit departure numbers than were initially feared. Citi, for example, said in July that it would add 150 jobs in its Frankfurt hub in the initial phase of its Brexit transition.
With less than 18 months to go until Brexit, most investment banks have applied for the licences they will need for their post-Brexit businesses and some have already begun taking on new property leases in Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin.
Many are adopting a phased approach, moving as few people as they can during what they hope will be a transition period of several years, before deciding on longer term structures.