April 6, 2011 / 2:20 PM / 7 years ago

Regulation seen only minor threat to London

LONDON (Reuters) - A clear majority of senior London dealmakers think political and regulatory pressure will at worst only slightly dent the city’s appeal as a financial center, a Reuters poll showed.

The generally sanguine response contrasts with signals that banks including Barclays (BARC.L), HSBC (HSBA.L) and Standard Chartered (STAN.L) could consider moving headquarters elsewhere, and as the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) readies a report that could reshape the sector.

The poll collected anonymous responses from speakers at the London sessions of the Reuters Global Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) Summit, held this week. Respondents were drawn from eight banks, three private equity firms and a law firm.

Eleven of 17 respondents, or 65 percent of the total, said changes to the political and regulatory environment would only make London a “slightly less attractive place to work,” while another two said it would make no difference.

Only four, or about 24 percent, said it would make London “much less attractive.”

    Separately, a majority said a planned tightening of Britain’s merger rules would not cut M&A volumes. Ten of 18 respondents, or 56 percent, said it would have no effect, seven said it would “slightly reduce volumes,” and only one said it would significantly cut volumes.

    Last month the Takeover Panel, the country’s merger arbiter, published a detailed consultation paper on changes that are meant to give hostile bidders less sway, despite opposition from private equity firms and others.

    Barring the United States, the UK is the world’s busiest country for M&A this year, Thomson Reuters data shows, with $47 billion of deals in the first quarter making up 5.9 percent of the global total.

    Editing by David Holmes

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