Barclays to move £170bn to Dublin over no-deal Brexit fears

Barclays is to move €190bn (£166bn) worth of assets from the UK to Ireland as the bank readies itself for a possible no-deal Brexit.

The high court on Wednesday approved the lender’s Brexit contingency plans that include transferring the assets linked to about 5,000 of its clients to a Dublin-based unit.

“Barclays will use our existing licensed EU-based bank subsidiary to continue to serve our clients within the EU beyond 29 March 2019 regardless of the outcome of Brexit,” the bank said. “Our preparations are well advanced and we expect to be fully operational by 29 March 2019.”

Barclays will boost its Dublin headcount by about 150 to 300 as a result of the EU divorce.

The court approval came less than two months after Royal Bank of Scotland applied to transfer a third of its own investment bank clients and assets worth billions out of Britain to Amsterdam in preparation for Brexit.

The Dublin and Amsterdam moves safeguard the banks’ businesses against a no-deal Brexit, allowing them to continue serving European customers even if Britain fails to strike a trade deal that covers financial services contracts.

A no-deal Brexit would leave banks without a replacement for EU passporting rights, which currently allow firms to do cross-border business throughout the bloc.

In approving Barclays’ application, Mr Justice Snowden said in his judgment: “Due to the continuing uncertainty over whether there might be a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, the Barclays Group has determined that it cannot wait any longer to implement the scheme.”

He added that the Irish operation “must be legally and operationally ready to conduct all relevant regulated business with the in-scope clients by no later than 29 March 2019, which is the date currently set for Brexit.”