Royal Bank of Scotland to pick Dublin as base

Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Howard Davies indicated the UK taxpayer-owned bank would probably pick Dublin as its EU base following Brexit and may have to move “tens” of employees from Britain to other offices.

“In our case we don’t have a problem because we do own a eurozone bank in the form of Ulster Bank,” Davies said in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday.

“Probably we would have to move some people, but we are talking tens of people, not the numbers other banks are talking about.”

Global banks have started to reveal more about their plans to shift jobs and set up offices within the EU after UK prime minister Theresa May indicated she’ll pull Britain out of the single market.

British banks such as Barclays, which may move about 150 employees to Dublin, and Lloyds Banking Group, which will shift a handful of people to Frankfurt, appear less affected than their international peers, many of which have indicated thousands of jobs may relocate.

Mr Davies said any disruption from Brexit would be minimised for RBS because Ulster Bank is already regulated by the ECB, while the Edinburgh-based lender also has smaller operations in the Netherlands and Germany. The Irish unit is “quite a sizable bank so we have a eurozone base,” he added.

Financial Services Minister Eoghan Murphy said positivity toward Dublin is growing among banks considering Brexit-related moves. Ireland has had more than 100 enquiries from companies, he said. While RBS has been shedding operations in Europe to focus about 85% of its assets in the UK and Ireland, it retains a Netherlands subsidiary .

Mr Davies was concerned about a “cliff edge” Brexit, with access to the EU cut off after two years of talks. But, he said he was encouraged that prime minister May mentioned the importance of temporary arrangements in a speech last month.

Banks heard Ms May emphasise “the importance of some kind of transitional arrangement, which we hadn’t heard before and is particularly crucial,” the chairman said. London’s financial centre “can cope with changes, some people will move as result, but what you can’t cope with is a discontinuity in contracts and that’s going to be very, very disruptive.”

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