HSBC is playing down a report that it may move its headquarters from London to Hong Kong because of what it sees as high levels of tax and red tape in the UK.
The top bosses of Europe’s biggest bank – Chairman Douglas Flint and CEO Stuart Gulliver – admitted that they are coming under pressure from shareholders to do that but said they prefer to remain in the UK and any talk of an imminent change in that position is “entirely speculative and presumptuous.”
HSBC does review the issue every three years and that review is taking place this year.
Any suggestion that it is thinking of leaving London would help strengthened its position in negotiations with the government on regulatory issues.
A British tax on bank assets to be introduced this year would cost HSBC about $600 million (428 million euros) based on its balance sheet at the end of December. That marks a cost for being based in the country, HSBC said last week as it cut its profitability targets alongside its 2010 results.