Is HSBC Departing - Back To Its Roots

According to media reports out of the UK HSBC is once again making hints it may consider relocating its headquarters.

With opinion polls showing the UK Labour party slightly ahead and with all political parties there promising ever more regulation and tax hikes on the biggest banks the current HSBC chairman, Douglas Flint, intimated it may be time to consider relocation of its head office.

Labour's intention to ramp up the Bank Levy still further, are fuelling disquiet among HSBC's largest shareholders some of whom are calling on the board to re-evaluate the escalating cost of its UK abode.

HSBC has been under intense criticism in recent months in the UK media over historical tax evasion inside the Swiss private banking unit and more recently in France.

However in practical terms any relocation of the head office would be both a logistic and financial burden. Moving executives and their families and installing a global support system will not come cheap. On the other hand if the UK politicians make good on their promises, not something they have a good track record on, flight may be better than fight.

Ironically HSBC re domiciled in the early nineties when it acquired Midland Bank and the deal terms conveniently required the relocation of the headquarters to London. At that time HSBC had one wary eye on the potentially volatile 1997 Chinese takeover of Hong Kong.

Now it is the UK’s own domestic policy makers that could be pushing the banking behemoth back its Asian roots.


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