Goldman CEO has high hopes for London HQ post-Brexit, despite uncertainty

Goldman Sachs' new London HQ: work in progress. [DAVID HOLT/Flickr]

Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein expects to fill the firm’s new European headquarters which is currently under construction in London, but said Britain’s exit from the European Union left much outside the bank’s control.

“In London. GS still investing in our big new Euro headquarters here. Expecting/hoping to fill it up, but so much outside our control. #Brexit,” Blankfein tweeted on Monday, alongside a bird’s eye picture of the new building.

The Wall Street bank is building a 1.1 million square foot office in London with initial occupancy slated for 2019 to house its 6,000 UK employees, but the firm needs to ensure it can still service its EU clients after Brexit and may have limited access to the EU’s single market from Britain.

Goldman also has flexibility to adjust the number of floors it takes in the new building, according to a source familiar with the situation, so it is not committed to occupying the entire office. That option was put in place prior to the Brexit vote.

Earlier this month, Goldman said it had agreed to lease office space at a new building in Frankfurt, giving it space for up to 1,000 staff.

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That would be five times the current staff of 200 and see it bolstering activities including trading, investment banking and asset management.

Blankfein sparked a wave of speculation earlier this month when he tweeted he was planning to spend a lot more time in Frankfurt.

Frankfurt is so far seen as the biggest beneficiary from Wall Street banks moving jobs out of London as a result of Brexit, with JPMorgan, Citi and Morgan Stanley all setting out plans to expand operations there.

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Meanwhile, HSBC’s finance director Iain Mackay said on Monday that the bank may move fewer than 1,000 jobs to Paris following Britain’s exit from the European Union.

“It may be less than 1,000 employees, but it’s up to 1,000,” Mackay told reporters on a conference call.

Previous comments from senior HSBC executives had emphasised the number of jobs to move would be 1,000.

Mackay said the bank had booked $12m in costs for the third quarter in relation to Brexit, mostly spent on legal advice regarding contingency planning. The bank still expects to spend $200-$300m in total on Brexit relocation costs, he said.

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Paris attracts biggest US insurer after Brexit

America’s largest general insurance provider announced it will move operations to France after the UK leaves the EU. EURACTIV’s partner La Tribune reports.

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