The Brexit jobs exodus is beginning.
Vodafone is considering moving UK roles overseas following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and Goldman Sachs has warned banks could do similar, according to reports.
The Times reports that Richard Gnodde, co-head of the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs, wouldn’t rule out moving some or all of the bank’s 6,500 UK staff to Europe when asked about Goldman’s post-Brexit plans at the paper’s CEO Summit on Tuesday.
Gnodde said “every outcome is possible”, according to the report, and said: “If passporting was totally removed, we have would have to adjust our footprint and where people were located.”
Under the current regime, banks with a UK presence have the right to operate in any of the other 28 EU nations under single market rules that allow them to “passport” their licence across the continent. Once the UK leaves the EU, it is likely that these rights will disappear, meaning banks will have to relocate if they want to continue operating across the continent.
However, a spokesperson for Goldman Sachs contacted BI to say that Gnodde was speaking more generally about the banking industry rather than Goldman specifically. The spokesperson said in an emailed statement: “As we have already communicated to our employees, there is no immediate change to the way we conduct our business or where we conduct our business.”
Goldman Sachs CEO and chairman Lloyd Blankfein also says in an emailed statement:
We respect the decision of the British electorate and have been focused on planning for either referendum outcome for many months. Goldman Sachs has a long history of adapting to change, and we will work with relevant authorities as the terms of the exit become clear. Our primary focus, as always, remains serving our clients’ needs.
While Gnodde’s comments on Goldman’s plans are far from concrete, US ratings agency Fitch said in a note on Tuesday that it expects banks to “start strategically implementing parts of their contingency plans rather than wait for trade and service arrangements to be agreed.”
JP Morgan has said it may need to move a quarter of its 16,000 UK staff to the EU, HSBC and Morgan Stanley are both believed to be planning to move of 1,000 staff to the EU, although Morgan Stanley denied recent reports, and other banks have announced possible moves too.
Away from banking, Vodafone is also threatening to move jobs out of the UK. The telecoms giant late on Tuesday said it could consider moving its headquarters out of the UK because a “very large majority of our 462 million customers, 108,000 employees and 15,000 suppliers are based outside the UK.”
According to the BBC, the company said in a statement: “The UK’s membership of the European Union has been an important factor in the growth of a company such as Vodafone. Freedom of movement of people, capital and goods are integral to the operation of any pan-European business as are single legal frameworks spanning all Member States.”
Vodafone says no firm decision has yet been taken as the framework of any potential post-Brexit Britain-EU trade deal is not yet clear. But if it does end up relocating its headquarters it could mean a huge number of job losses. Vodafone employs 13,000 across Newbury and London, according to the Financial Times.