BoAML's Search For New London Office Isn't Brexit Play - Source

Josh O'Neill Assistant Editor 7 February 2017

BoAML's Search For New London Office Isn't Brexit Play - Source

In light of recent media reports that Bank of America Merrill Lynch is looking for a new London office, WealthBriefing has learned that the search has nothing to do with the UK's upcoming divorce from the European Union.

Following reports that Bank of America Merrill Lynch is scouting London for new office space, a source close to the matter has scotched media claims that the search cements the UK as a post-Brexit safe haven, instead describing the process as “everyday business”.

Over the weekend, The Daily Telegraph reported that “the group has hired property agents CBRE to identify sites in London as large as 500,000 square feet” – similar in size to its current premises just a stone's throw away from St Paul's Cathedral in London, which serves as its European headquarters. 

“The revelation that America's second-largest bank is looking to cement its UK presence will boost confidence that London can remain Europe's financial hub after the UK leaves the European Union and attract multinationals from other industries,” the newspaper's report said. 

The lease on the bank's current London office expires in 2022 and has a two-year notice period, meaning the firm must decide by 2020 whether it wants to continue the lease or relocate elsewhere.

However, a source familiar with the matter, who declined to be named, has shot down media claims that the bank's search for a new London location signifies its commitment to the UK as a financial hub after Brexit.

“[BoAML] is simply checking out the market for a new building to get an idea of prices,” the source told WealthBriefing. “This was going on before the referendum so it's nothing new. It is just the ordinary course of business.”

He continued: “It is a typical case of the mainstream press running a 'dog bites man' story.”

Since the outcome of the UK's vote to exit the EU last summer, many media outlets have speculated that Brexit could lead to an exodus of financial services jobs out of London to cities such as Paris, Frankfurt or Dublin, as firms scramble to secure access to the single market. 

While certain firms have been reported to be drafting contingency plans to deal with the potential effects of Brexit, very few have confirmed these media claims as being matter of fact. 

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