HSBC has “indefinitely” shelved plans to move its headquarters to Hong Kong from London, having previously threatened it would move East to avoid punitive financial regulation.
Stuart Gulliver, the Hong Kong/London-listed bank’s chief executive, has decided the bank will not move its HQ from London. The bank paid $1.5 billion of tax in the UK last year.
“Although we talked at one point about reviewing this, it has been postponed indefinitely,” Gulliver told shareholders in Hong Kong. He added: “There are too many moving parts to make a rational, conscious decision.”
Gulliver has been a critic of the UK government’s levy on banks and proposed new regulations on banks that include the idea of “ringfencing” retail banking from areas such as investment banking and trading.
HSBC contributed $570 million in the UK bank levy last year.
Given its Asian heritage and how it earns around 80 per cent of its revenue outside the UK, the levy and associated regulatory costs were cited as reasons why this bank might choose to pull out of London. HSBC is not the only London-listed bank to earn the bulk of its revenues outside the UK: Standard Chartered also generates most of its money in the Asia region, for example.