There are now 16 months and 30 days left to complete the most complicated divorce negotiations in history. So how are those Brexit talks going? Better, sure, but not great, for while occasionally confused lead British dealmaker David Davis crowed last month on several “decisive steps forward,” those steps did not include any mention of Britain’s alimony payments to the EU or whether it will have to listen to the European Court of Justice and the like, on which one imagines decisive steps forward will be difficult to achieve. Certainly, the European Parliament isn’t impressed, telling Davis that his “decisive steps forward” are not the same as the “sufficient progress” it needs to see before beginning to talk about not building a giant tariff wall down the middle of the English Channel.
All of this decisive lack of progress is weighing on one man, and that man is Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. You see, Blankfein’s bank decided to build a fancy new European headquarters in—you guessed it—London, back before the British people decided they didn’t want London to be in Europe anymore. In that distant, distant past, which is now about as distant from today as the U.K.’s unceremonious departure from the EU at the end of March 2019, Lloyd dreamed of 6,000 Elect extending Goldman’s global domination across the European continent from 1.1 million square feet on Farringdon Street—occupancy starting around, well, March 2019.
Since then, of course, he’s had to make someotherplans. But he’d really prefer not to use the out clause in his Farringdon lease that will allow Goldman to rent only half a cubicle to house its last London-based employee. How worried is Blankfein? Well, just look at his Twitter feed. While he generally uses his weekly-or-less 140-characters on such anodyne banalities as wishing Warren Buffett a happy birthday and bragging about having gone to Harvard and wishy-washy takes on bitcoin, he’s dedicated the last two to some not-terribly-subtle messages to U.K.’s fearless leaders.
In other words, figure this thing out quick or I’ll have to continue to pretend to like Frankfurt, which no one does, while you turn this giant boondoggle into the biggest unemployment office in the world.
Goldman CEO has high hopes for London HQ post-Brexit, much outside his control [Reuters]
Goldman Sachs CEO ‘hopes’ to fill new London HQ with staff post-Brexit [Independent]
Blankfein Brexit Tweet Reveals Worry London Desks to Stay Empty [Bloomberg]