ECB says a dozen banks are pushing post-Brexit expansion in EU

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Photo: Sabine Lautenschlaeger

Banks have started making concrete steps to expand their operations to the euro area ahead of Brexit.

“So far, eight banks have already taken formal steps to seek a new licence,” Sabine Lautenschlaeger, vice chair of the European Central Bank’s oversight arm, said in a press conference in Frankfurt on Wednesday. “Four other banks are planning to significantly extend their activities in the euro area.”

She said more than 50 banks have met with European supervisors and are “in a pre-application phase right now.” That’s roughly consistent with what Daniele Nouy, head of supervision at the ECB, said in November.

Lautenschlaeger, who also sits on the ECB’s monetary-policy-making Executive Board, stressed that time is running out for banks who want to make sure they can continue to operate in the euro area after the U.K.’s exit from the European Union. Lenders shouldn’t count on a transition period to delay a decision on relocating their activities, she added, as any extension will be considered for banks “that have already presented high-quality and credible plans for their steady state situation.”

“Any bank that wishes to relocate from the U.K. to the euro area should really have submitted its licence application already,” she said. “But if it hasn’t, it should do so by the end of the second quarter of 2018 at the latest.”