UBS clear to move RM149b of UK assets to Germany

LONDON • The impact of Brexit on London’s financial sector came into stark relief as a judge approved plans by a UBS Group AG unit to shift some of its UK business — involving assets valued at more than €32 billion (RM149.18 billion) — to Germany.

The Swiss bank’s plans are a response to the “external shock” of Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU), not designed for “commercial advantage” or based on any “internal rationalisation”, said Judge Alastair Norris in London, who approved the proposal on Tuesday.

The goal is to keep operations going amid uncertainty about the post-Brexit future of “passporting” rights, which allow financial companies to market products and services in any EU country without having to set up a branch there. Earlier on Tuesday, when the bank’s lawyers applied for permission to make the changes, they cited a “real and immediate risk” that UBS may lose the right to conduct some operations in theEU.

The bank’s equity trading venue is staying in London, even as rivals accelerate plans to shift trading elsewhere in Europe.

UBS is the latest bank to go to court for permission to activate Brexit plans. Last week, Barclays plc got the green light to transfer large parts of its British business to its Dublin-based subsidiary if needed.

UBS plans to transfer the operations of its UK unit, UBS Ltd, to its German unit, UBS Europe SE, on March 1. — Bloomberg