Lloyds of London: Could Malta be its European base if UK loses access to the EEA?

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Plenty of column inches have been dedicated to the future of the British financial and banking industry in the wake of Brexit. Both hard facts and sheer speculation have made headlines, with all manner of predictions churned out every day by the world press. The actual impact remains dependant on the final negotiations between the UK and EU, which ramifications cannot be truly identified until the UK-EU ‘divorce’ is signed sealed and delivered.

What is glaringly obvious, six months down the line from the historic Brexit vote is the air of uncertainty which has understandably hit the City – London’s financial hub. What is most worrying is the fact that following the Brexit vote, with its full implications, UK financial services companies could lose their ‘passporting’ rights.

Late last year, the historic, 328-year old Lloyd’s of London became one of the first major financial services firm to outline a plan for moving some of its operations to the EU in preparation for Brexit. The UK financial news portal www.thisismoney.co.uk in an article dated 17 December 2016 said that Malta has made the ‘shortlist of five possible EU destinations’ chosen by Lloyds of London. Further reports in the Maltese media surfaced late last week, not only reaffirming the initial report by www.thisismoney.co.uk but go one step further by claiming that Malta is actually in ‘pole position’.

Maltawinds.com has spoken to Mr Paul Bonello of Finco Group, a leading and well-known figure in the local financial industry and asked for his take on this latest development. Mr Bonello said, “The news that hit early last week that Malta has emerged as a favourite location for a post-Brexit subsidiary of Lloyds of London (not to be confused with Lloyds Bank) is welcome news especially when if this were to happen it would be in preference to such established locations as Dublin, Paris and Frankfurt.”

He continued, “Such a move would not mean that there would be a large scale migration of operations and its top managerial staff from London to Malta but that an important substantive corporate presence would be established on the island from which passporting of insurance related services that are licensed in Malta can be sold elsewhere in the European Union.”

On what would this signify for our country as a whole and more importantly what would be the impact on the local financial services sector Mr Bonello concluded that, “The importance of such a move would be the prestige value of it and also that it can act as a catalyst for similar moves of British outfits considering their post-Brexit strategy.  If such moves take off the ground, the local financial services industry will continue to sophisticate itself and perhaps start a trend whereby Malta will diversify itself away from depending too much on the e-gaming industry which sources in the financial services industry consider to have outgrown itself.”