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24 March 2015, 18:24
HSBC is to relocate the head office of its UK retail bank to Birmingham in a move that will see around 1,000 jobs transferred from London, it announced today.
The bank said the move would take place before January 1 2019, the deadline UK regulators have laid down for major banks to separate their more risky investment banking divisions from traditional operations such as personal and business accounts.
HSBC said it was in advanced negotiations to acquire a 250-year lease on a new 210,000 sq ft building in the Arena Central area in the centre of Birmingham. Development of the site is expected to begin in June.
This building will be the new headquarters of HSBC's retail operations, with 16 million customers.
HSBC, which employs 48,000 staff in the UK, said no net job losses are planned as a result of the move. It will attempt to redeploy staff who do not want to relocate to Birmingham, with any redundancies as a final option.
The bank's UK chief executive Antonio Simoes said: ``We want to be the bank of choice in the UK. Creating our ring-fenced bank head office in Birmingham gets us a step closer to that ambition for our 16 million personal and business customers.''
He said HSBC already had a ``strong track record'' establishing banks outside London with its First Direct business based in Leeds and M&S-branded banking services based in Chester.
The bank already employs more than 2,500 staff in Birmingham. It pointed to HSBC's roots in the city with the opening of the Birmingham and Midland Bank in 1836.
HSBC said it had looked at other areas for its new head office but decided Birmingham gave it wide UK coverage of customers, branch network and staff.
Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore said: ``HSBC joins a number of global companies that want to be a part of Birmingham's accelerating growth and strong economic prospects.''
The move comes in the wake of controversy over HSBC's Swiss private banking arm.
Last month chief executive Stuart Gulliver, who was not in charge at the time, apologised for ''unacceptable'' tax-avoidance activities linked to the unit in the mid-2000s.