Bank of America moves senior London bankers to Paris ahead of Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) - Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) BAC.N is shifting three of its most senior UK-based bankers to Paris, as part of Brexit reorganisation plans aimed at ensuring "seamless" service to its European Union clients after Britain quits the bloc in March.

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the Eiffel Tower and the financial and business district in La Defense, west of Paris, France November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

In a staff memo seen by Reuters on Tuesday, the bank’s chief operating officer Tom Montag said Sanaz Zaimi, head of Global Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities (FICC) Sales, would assume the additional role of country executive for France and relocate to the French capital during 2019.

The move is one of the most senior Brexit staff redeployments to date by a major bank, and reflects a renewed sense of action among institutions keen to protect their businesses from a possible Brexit shock.

International banks which built up London operations over the past few years are now scrambling to beef up EU outposts to overcome the loss of passporting rights which enable them to offer financial, advisory and trading services to corporate clients across all EU states with just one local licence.

U.S. banks have said London would almost certainly remain their primary hub in Europe irrespective of Brexit, citing a broader pool of talent, a more suitable legal and regulatory framework and an Anglo-Saxon workplace culture as factors giving the British capital an edge.

But they have also said relocation and hiring decisions were subject to change, depending on the shape of any financial services deal between Britain and Brussels.

In preparation, Bank of America is merging its London-based subsidiary with its Dublin-based Irish entity, which will become its main EU base.

It has already said it would expand its investment banking activities in Paris and transfer some of its London-based back office operations to Dublin, ahead of Brexit.

Reuters earlier reported that up to 400 jobs in Bank of America’s markets, trading, sales and fixed income teams would move from London to the EU in a first wave of transfers next year, citing two sources familiar with the bank’s Brexit plans.

Zaimi will be joined by Vanessa Holtz, who is currently head of global G10 foreign exchange trading and co-head of EMEA G10 FX trading. She will also become head of European Union FICC trading. Othmane Kabbaj, head of EMEA emerging markets FICC sales, will assume the additional role of head of EU FICC sales, the memo said.

Holtz and Kabbaj will also relocate from London to the bank’s new Paris offices next year, Montag said, adding that further EU leadership appointments would be announced in due course.

Reporting By Sinead Cruise. Editing by Jane Merriman