Wells Fargo to shift European investment banking business to Paris as Brexit looms

(Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N said on Tuesday it had applied for an investment firm license in France as part of a Brexit strategy to shift some of its servicing of European mainland customers out of London.

FILE PHOTO: The sign outside the Wells Fargo & Co. bank in downtown Denver, Colorado, U.S., April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

The San Francisco-based bank, whose purchase of a high-profile location near the Bank of England two years ago was seen as a vote of confidence in the Brexit process, said it would continue to service UK and non-EU clients from London.

The company said a new subsidiary based in Paris would provide capital markets and investment banking services for European and international customers who require access to the EU and the European Economic Area.

The company gave no indication whether the move would lead to job cuts in London or how many it would employ in Paris. A spokesperson said the company employs about 1,000 people at its London office.

“With Brexit on the horizon, Wells Fargo is committed to providing a transition, which is as seamless as possible, for its markets and investment banking customers,” said Alicia Reyes, head of Wells Fargo Securities for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The new Paris-based unit will be called Wells Fargo Securities Europe S.A.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in July that the country would ease financial regulations to EU minimums and introduce new tax incentives to make Paris a more attractive finance hub. (

Paris is competing with the likes of Frankfurt, Dublin and Luxembourg to win over finance jobs in the wake of Britain’s departure from the EU next March.

The Paris Europlace financial sector lobby said in July that Paris was set to win 3,500 financial sector jobs leaving Britain due to Brexit.

HSBC HSBA.L would make up the bulk, with 1,000 jobs, while French banks moving posts back to their base in Paris would add another 1,000 jobs. The rest would come from a host of Wall Street banks and other financial firms, the lobby had said.

Companies from across the EU use London for currency trading, derivatives and managing investment funds.

Some EU policymakers want parts of these activities shifted to the continent after Brexit to avoid relying on what will then be a foreign financial centre.

Wells Fargo said it will make more announcements on its Brexit strategy in the near future.

Shares of the company, which reported a better-than-expected profit last week, were down marginally in late morning trading.

Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Arun Koyyur