Brexit, we've very recently been told, isn't a divorce but a “new relationship” between Britain and its continental peers. That's nice. But it's cold comfort to global banks, whose London operations existed in large part to exploit the U.K.'s passporting relationship with the euro area. Should British trade negotiators fail to retain those privileges – an outcome that looks increasingly likely – numerous multinational banks will probably end up pulling a Brexit of their own.
Though Wall Street has taken its sweet time deciding where to land, we're starting to finally see some winners and losers in the monthslong pan-European beauty contest to woo Brexit's financial victims. Today's winner: Dublin.
Bank of America Corp. views Dublin as its default destination for a new hub inside the European Union if Brexit means the U.K. loses easy access to the single market, according to one of the firm’s top executives in Germany.
Ireland is a natural choice. It retains the minimal time-zone difference between New York and Europe and means a relatively small move for erstwhile London bankers. Also there's the whole language thing. “Dublin and Ireland are the closest you’re going to get to London and the UK,” the city's investment spokesman has said, which essentially translates to, “Don't worry about learning a new language, lazy Americans.”
Given the fact that Dublin has sold itself essentially as London-lite, it's no surprise that Bank of America isn't exactly gushing about the potential of a rebound relationship with the emerald isle.
Bank of America already has a fully licensed operation in Dublin, hence why it is the default option, [Bank of America’s head of corporate banking in Germany, Switzerland and Austria Nikolaus] Naerger said. The bank will still maintain a large presence in London, he said. “Dublin is an emergency, a default option that the bank has,” he said.
“Default,” a wise man once said. “The two sweetest words in the English language.”