* New applications can expect “rigorous process” - regulator
* Several have entered pre-application, application phase
* Irish financial sector set to grow, possibly significantly (Adds detail on applicant firms, ECB view)
By Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Ireland’s central bank is not seeking to dissuade financial firms from moving investment banking or trading operations to Dublin as a result of Brexit and is receiving applications from a range of sectors, its head of regulation said on Thursday.
Banking sources told Reuters last week the central bank had signalled to several large investment banks considering a move from London after Britain leaves the EU that it would be reluctant to host large trading operations.
“I want to be clear: we do not have such a position. We have not sought to dissuade any such entities from seeking authorisation nor are we planning to do so,” Cyril Roux said in a speech.
“Such applicants, of course, like any other applicant, can expect a rigorous process.”
Roux said there was no need for extra caution because the risk appetite for such trading activities was set by the European Central Bank - supervisor for the largest banks in the euro zone - which has given “zero indication” that it opposes high-risk trading moving to a small city like Dublin.
Dublin, which is already one of the world’s largest centres for fund administration and has a growing financial technology and insurance presence, is competing with cities such as Amsterdam, Paris, Luxembourg and Frankfurt to gain from potential Brexit-related moves.
Roux said the bank had seen a material increase in queries from UK-authorised entities, several of which had moved into the pre-application or application phase, meaning the Irish financial sector was set to grow, quite possibly significantly.
Enquiries have come “throughout the spectrum” of sectors, he said, naming insurance, payments institutions, firms authorised by MIFID (markets in financial instruments directive) and CSD (central securities depositories).
Roux expects applications to continue in the coming months as companies prepare for the possibility of a loss of passporting rights into the EU, a system that lets them operate across the bloc but under the supervision of just one regulator.
Ireland’s financial services minister told Reuters last week that some firms making applications would also be waiting to see if there was any further clarity on the terms of Brexit before making any final decision to move.
Roux reiterated that any firm seeking a licence to set up in Ireland would have to have a substantive presence in the country, something major firms understood but others seeking to “nail a brass plate, rent a room and still keep doing everything from the UK” did not.
“We have to tell them it’s not going to happen,” Roux said
Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by David Evans and Jane Merriman