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HSBC to stay in London

By The News · 15 of February 2016 21:49:20
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The HSBC headquarters is seen in the Canary Wharf financial district, London.


The Associated Press

LONDON – Britain’s biggest bank is staying put.

HSBC Holdings PLC said it will keep its headquarters in London, ending a 10-month process in which one of the world’s largest financial companies considered moving to Hong Kong to get closer to its center of gravity in fast-growing Asian economies.

“I think we’ve ended up with the best of both worlds,” HSBC chairman Douglas Flint told the BBC on Monday. “A pivot to Asia, led from London.”

Flint said that HSBC was, at its heart, a bank focused on trade and investment flows. Sidestepping concerns about the recent volatility in Asian markets, Flint said it had been a privilege to choose between two of the world’s great financial centers and that the decision was not based on short-term market dynamics.

“The U.K. is one of the most globally connected economies in the world with a fantastic regulatory system and legal system and immense experience in dealing with international affairs,” he said.

The bank launched the review last April in light of regulatory and tax changes implemented by the U.K. after the 2008 financial crisis. Particularly problematic was a 2010 tax on a bank’s global balance sheet, which penalized those with global operations such as HSBC and Standard Chartered. Fears that Britain would vote to leave the European Union also heightened concerns. HSBC’s decision was a relief to the government, which feared losing a pillar of Britain’s financial world — and the signal it would send more broadly for the economy at a time of heated debate about whether or not to leave the EU. The thought of losing one of London’s financial icons had sent the government into panic.

“It’s a vote of confidence in the government’s economic plan, and a boost to our goal of making the U.K. a great place to do more business with China,” the Treasury said in a statement.

HSBC moved its headquarters to London in 1992 to meet the regulatory requirements for its acquisition of Midland Bank.