SYDNEY May 3 QBE Insurance Group will
move its European base from London to the continent because of
uncertainty in accessing the European market after Brexit, the
chairman of Australia's largest international insurer said on
"We need to prepare our business for this reality, and we
are doing so on the assumption the existing access arrangements
enjoyed by UK domiciled insurers to the other 27 European Union
countries will not be preserved," Marston Becker told
shareholders at QBE's annual general meeting in Sydney.
A QBE spokesman said no announcement had been made as to
where the company planned to relocate and declined to comment
The Sydney-based insurer employs over 14,500 people
worldwide, including around 1,950 across 16 European countries.
Its European division based in London accounted for more than $4
billion in gross written premiums in 2016.
Britain's decision to trigger article 50 of the Lisbon
Treaty starting the country's formal two-year countdown to leave
the European Union has caused political and economic
uncertainty, with the financial services industry expected to be
one of the heaviest hit. Several global banks and other
financial services groups have indicated they may leave or
curtail operations in Britain.
Becker warned that while the impact of Brexit on the British
economy was not clear, the company's move would impact its QBE
Insurance Europe Limited business, QBE Reinsurance and its
Lloyd's business operations.
"We are well-advanced with our plans and negotiations for
the establishment of a new location for our EU business, he
said. "We expect to have a solution in place for 2018 renewals."
Becker, whose company launched a three-year A$1 billion
($750.6 million) share buy-back initiative in February, said
global conditions for the insurance industry seemed more
favourable with regards to investment returns in the coming
year, as central banks move away from low interest rates and
monetary stimulus packages.
However, he warned that anti-globalisation and other
political upheavals were becoming more of a factor in industry
($1 = 1.3323 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Benjamin Weir; Editing by Jane Wardell and