24th April 2015
HSBC shares increased today as the bank said it was considering moving it s headquarters out of London, as speculation grows that it could bring back Midland Bank.
Following ‘regulatory and structural reforms’ undertaken since the financial crisis, the bank – which has come under fire due to its part in high-level Swiss tax avoidance – is now considering moving out of the country.
The bank’s board has asked the management team to ‘look at where the best place is for HSBC to be headquartered in this new environment’, chairman Douglas Flint will announced at the bank’s AGM.
Flint said: ‘The question is a complex one and it is too soon to say how long this will take or what the conclusion will be; but the work is under way.’
Shares increased 3% higher on the news.
The move could be partly down to a plan set out in the Budget to increase the bank levy from 0.156% to 0.21%. Banks with large balance sheets, like HSBC, will be hit – it paid £750 million in bank levies last year of a total £1.9 billion raised by the government.
The fact that the UK’s place in the European Union is also uncertainty has further alarmed the bank, stating that a potential referendum is a source of ‘economic uncertainty’.
As part of the move the bank may sell off its retail bank and there is speculation that it would lead to the resurrection of its Midland Bank brand. It took over Birmingham-based Midland Bank in 1993.