January 16, 2017 / 4:58 PM / 3 years ago

UBS CEO says bank has flexibility over passporting rights post-Brexit

CEO Sergio Ermotti of Swiss bank UBS smiles before an annual news conference in Zurich, Switzerland February 2, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

DAVOS (Reuters) - UBS (UBSG.S) has a degree of flexibility if its UK outpost looks set to lose its ability to operate across the European Union once Britain leaves the bloc, Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti said at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday.

“We have a Frankfurt base where we house our wealth management operations and not just that... We have a framework in place and infrastructure that can be expanded if needed,” Ermotti said at a press briefing in the Swiss Alps.

However, he said that the Swiss bank remained in wait and see mode and cautioned that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s forthcoming speech on Tuesday was unlikely to bring much more clarity on what Brexit means.

“We need a higher degree of certainty in order to take action, it will be extremely expensive otherwise,” he said.

UBS employs more than 5,000 people in London. Ermotti has said previously that 20 percent to 30 percent of those employees could be affected should the Swiss bank decide to move.

In 2016, UBS set up a bank in Frankfurt to consolidate most of its European wealth management operations in an effort to conserve capital and simplify its structure.

Reporting By Pamela Barbaglia, writing by Anjuli Davies; Editing by Rachel Armstrong

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