Credit Suisse applied for banking licence in Spain after Brexit

MADRID (Reuters) - Credit Suisse CSGN.S has applied for a licence to set up an investment bank hub in Madrid after Britain has left the European Union, a spokesman said on Monday confirming a report from Spanish newspaper Expansion.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss bank Credit Suisse is seen at a branch office in Basel, Switzerland March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

The Swiss lender sought a licence from the Bank of Spain and the European Central Bank in July to upgrade its brokerage in the country to a bank, the spokesman said confirming the article that quoted Wenceslao Bunge, Credit Suisse’s chief for Spain and Portugal.

The bank expects to get the licence within a year and to be fully operational by mid 2021.

In July, the EU’s banking watchdog told banks using Britain as a gateway to the European Union to fully execute their plans for serving EU customers before a Brexit transition period ends in December.

Britain left the EU in January, but financial firms have unfettered access across the bloc under transition arrangements that end on December 31..

Credit Suisse said in a statement its priority has always been to ensure it maintained access to European Union clients and markets regardless of the outcomes of the Brexit process.

“Over the last three years, we have added to our existing capabilities in Spain, Germany and Luxembourg to provide this continuity for our clients. London will remain a key part of the bank’s strategy and footprint after the UK’s exit from the EU,” the bank said.

The decision to move part of its operations to Madrid was made after considering costs, employees’ preferences among other factors, Bunge told Expansion. “We believe in the country and the advantages it offers. Spain has a very important competitiveness position,” he said.

Many big banks have already opened up hubs in Frankfurt, Paris and elsewhere in the bloc to continue serving customers there, while EU banks in London like ING have begun shifting some staff home.

Credit Suisse has not determined how many staff it will transfer to Madrid from London, although 50 employees have already moved to the Spanish capital.

Reporting by Inti Landauro, Oliver Hirt and Jesus Aguado, editing by Louise Heavens and Carmel Crimmins