* Globe's top wealth manager has 5,000 staff in London
* CEO Ermotti says banks could trigger contingency plans
* UBS prepares to make decision on move in coming months
By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi
ZURICH, April 28 The head of UBS, one
of Europe's leading financial groups, has criticised the British
government for failing to encourage banks to stay in London
after Brexit, predicting that many would soon trigger plans to
shift operations elsewhere.
"The UK is not really helping this process by trying to help
the industry to stay in London or to do things in London," UBS
Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti told journalists on Friday.
"I do see the danger of people being forced to trigger
contingency plans," added the CEO of Switzerland's largest bank.
Ermotti's remarks underline the potential impact of
Britain's departure from the European Union on one of the
mainstays of its economy. Brexit could prevent groups based in
London from selling financial services freely across the bloc
and trigger an exodus.
An executive at Deutsche Bank said this week that
it was considering whether to move thousands of its staff from
Ermotti, whose bank employs around 5,000 staff in London,
said UBS would decide whether and where to relocate staff in the
"Our timeframe for making decisions (on Brexit) is still ...
probably going to be towards the end of the summer, beginning of
fall, so that we can start to take concrete steps to prepare
ourselves," he said.
Ermotti said he was looking at alternative locations around
Europe, including Frankfurt and Spain, where the bank already
had a base. UBS has its headquarters in Zurich, outside of the
UBS has recently moved its London base to new offices in the
main financial district. As well as managing the wealth of the
rich, the group, with 2.2 trillion Swiss francs ($2.2 trillion)
in assets, has an investment bank.
In January, UBS Chairman Axel Weber said around 1,000 of the
bank's London employees could be hit by Britain's exit from the
European Union, while Ermotti had previously placed the figure
higher - at 20 percent to 30 percent of total jobs there.
Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May formally declared
Britain's intention to leave the EU, opening a two-year period
for both side to negotiate the divorce.
Talks were expected to begin in earnest in June, although
May's surprise decision to call a snap election on June 8 has
added to the uncertainty.
"Our goal would be to (keep) as many people in the UK as
possible and only selectively have people in the continent, but
it's up to the UK government to come up with pragmatic ways to
do that," said Ermotti.
($1 = 0.9900 Swiss francs)
(Writing By John O'Donnell; Editing by Keith Weir)