June 6, 2017 / 8:05 AM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Insurer QBE picks Brussels for new post-Brexit EU legal entity

* Move to ensure access to EU markets after Brexit

* Rivals chose Dublin for post-Brexit base (Adds details, CEO quote)

By Carolyn Cohn and Lawrence White

LONDON, June 6 (Reuters) - QBE Insurance Group will set up a new subsidiary in Brussels to preserve its ability to operate across the European Union after Britain leaves the EU, the Australian business insurer said on Tuesday.

“Our decision to set up a legal entity in Belgium ensures we can provide continuity of service irrespective of the outcome of Brexit negotiations,” Chief Executive Richard Pryce said in a statement.

QBE said it already has a branch in the Belgian capital, and will use staff there to take up roles in the newly formed company, which will be operational for 2019 renewals.

London will remain as the headquarters of QBE’s European business, it said.

The Sydney-based insurer employs more than 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.

QBE’s chairman, Marston Becker, told shareholders last month the company had to prepare for the possibility that arrangements permitting UK domiciled insurers to sell to the other 27 EU countries might not be preserved after Brexit.

The move to Brussels from QBE follows other financial companies setting up bases in rival centre Dublin, with British insurers Legal & General and Aviva last month selecting the Irish capital city. (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn and Lawrence White; editing by Louise Heavens)

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