September 2, 2019 / 5:24 PM / 15 days ago

UK's Javid says finance sector is top priority as Brexit nears: source

LONDON (Reuters) - British finance minister Sajid Javid told representatives of the country’s financial services industry on Monday that the sector was a top priority for him as the country prepares to leave the European Union, a person familiar with the discussions said.

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid walks outside Downing Street in London, Britain, September 2, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

Sajid said he was committed to close dialogue with the largest firms in the sector at the meeting, his first major encounter with the industry since he took over as finance minister in July, the person said.

He met heads of financial services firms and trade bodies at his Downing Street residence.

Brexit topped the agenda as the likelihood of Britain leaving the EU on October 31 without a deal with Brussels increases, a second source said.

“Sajid said the government will be trying to give the message that Britain is still open to international talent,” the source said.

Financial firms in Britain employ large numbers of EU nationals and the sector wants to continue having the flexibility to recruit internationally to remain competive.

Banks, insurers and asset managers in Britain have opened hubs in the EU to minimise disruption if there is a no-deal Brexit, making the sector one of the best prepared.

But industry representatives raised concerns about a potential “cliff edge” in December for derivatives trades worth billions of euros, the second source said.

Brussels has said that if there is a no-deal Brexit, EU investors can continue using clearing houses in London, but only until next March.

This means that clearing houses like the London Stock Exchange’s LCH would have to serve notice to their EU customers by year end to shift positions from London, unless Brussels signalled before then that it will extend the March cut off.

Reporting by Huw Jones; Writing by William Schomberg, Editing by William Maclean

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