Global banking behemoth HSBC may relocate its headquarters to Asia from the UK. Management cited UK regulatory reforms and the specter of the UK leaving the EU as reasons.
HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint said at the bank's annual general meeting on Friday that the board had asked management "to commence work to look at where the best place is for HSBC to be headquartered in this new environment." He added that it was a "complex" question and that a decision was not imminent.
Flint said demands for reforms in the banking industry imposed by the government, including the requirement to separate its investment and retail banking divisions, motivated management to reconsider the location of its head office.
HSBC's management is also concerned about the Conservatives' stance on Europe and a possible referendum on exiting the EU, if Prime Minister David Cameron is re-elected. Flint said he thinks that reforming the EU from within was "far less risky than going it alone."
HSBC was founded in 1865 in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The bank still makes around 80 percent of its profits in Asia. HSBC's headquarters were also originally in Asia, until the bank relocated to London in 1992, where it now employs thousands of staff.
ng/uhe (AP, AFP)