By Sinead Cruise and Inti Landauro
LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) – JPMorgan has secured additional office space on the outskirts of Paris to house up to 200 staff who could be billeted to the French capital at short notice, under plans to cope with the fallout from a ‘no deal’ Brexit, sources told Reuters.
The U.S. investment bank has expanded an existing lease at the temporary base so it can accommodate a swift transfer of crucial operations to the city by April 1 if Britain were to leave the EU without a deal on March 29, the sources familiar with the matter said.
The premises just outside central Paris would accommodate a mix of front, middle and back office employees that the bank considers to be vital to keeping its continental European business running smoothly. Staff earmarked to work out of the venue would do so on a temporary basis while the bank finalises longer term arrangements.
JPMorgan has also taken short-term leases on an undisclosed number of hotel rooms and apartments in Paris and several other European cities where staff may also be moved to if there was a disorderly ‘no deal’ Brexit, one of the sources said.
JPMorgan declined to comment.
Britain is due to leave the EU in 29 days time, but has yet to agree an exit deal. The chances of a no-deal Brexit at the end of March have fallen after Prime Minister Theresa May said she would allow lawmakers to vote on whether to accept her proposed deal or else have a small extension to the leave date.
Speaking at the Economic Club of New York in January, JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said the bank had spent hundreds of millions of dollars preparing for Brexit and was ready for all eventualities.
If there is a no deal staff will remain in place at the temporary site in Paris until the Wall Street heavyweight progresses plans to secure additional prime real estate in the city, preferably close to its existing offices in the city’s famous Place Vendome.
JPMorgan has been resident in Place Vendome since 1916 but there is not enough space to accommodate its ‘Day 1’ Brexit team there, and not enough time to fit out other more permanent addresses under consideration, including Hotel de la Marine on Place de la Concorde, the sources said.
With one of the most competitive and expensive prime office markets in Europe, JPMorgan is unwilling to rush into signing a long-term lease on a large new base in Paris, especially if a lengthy Brexit transition deal is confirmed.
During a transition, European regulators are expected to give greater clarity on the scale and scope of operations international banks will be required to have in the EU compared with their existing European headquarters in London.
(Editing by Mark Potter)