Goldman Sachs boss issues veiled threat over Brexit job exodus from London

Lloyd Blankfein tweets picture of £350m HQ under construction with message ‘hoping to fill it up, but so much is outside our control’

The boss of Goldman Sachs has waded back in to the debate over Brexit by issuing another veiled threat about the Wall Street firm’s employment plans in London as a result of the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

Lloyd Blankfein sent a tweet of an aerial shot of the new £350m European headquarters the bank has under construction in London, with the words “expecting/hoping to fill it up, but so much outside our control”.

It is the first tweet he has sent since the one a fortnight ago, when he was in Frankfurt and said he expected to spend more time in the German city. It comes amid continued uncertainty over negotiations for the UK’s exit from the bloc.

In London. GS still investing in our big new Euro headquarters here. Expecting/hoping to fill it up, but so much outside our control.#Brexit

— Lloyd Blankfein (@lloydblankfein) October 30, 2017

As part of its Brexit plans, Goldman is taking the top eight floors of a 37-storey block under construction in Frankfurt, which is expected to be ready for occupation in the third quarter of 2019.

It had already begun work on a new European headquarters in London before the referendum in June 2016 and the 10-storey building is scheduled for completion in March 2019 – just as the UK is due to leave the EU.

Goldman Sachs employs 6,000 staff in three premises in London and has the option to take all the space in the new building – just a stone’s throw from its main London location in Fleet Street – or sublet space. Goldman has yet to disclose how many staff will be located in the new building.

Just left Frankfurt. Great meetings, great weather, really enjoyed it. Good, because I'll be spending a lot more time there. #Brexit

— Lloyd Blankfein (@lloydblankfein) October 19, 2017

Many in the City are watching Goldman’s occupancy plans for the new London headquarters as a gauge for the impact of Brexit on the financial centre. The Frankfurt building could house up to 1,000 staff – suggesting the prospect of adding 800 on top of the 200 already employed in the German financial centre.

In January, Blankfein said that as a result of the vote to leave the EU Goldman was suspending a previous plan to shift some of its operations from New York to London. Sincethen, Richard Gnodde, chief executive of its international arm, has said the bank’s Brexit plans include hiring extra staff in the remaining 27 EU nations to cope with the extra business which will be channelled through Europe instead of London.

Major City firms are calling on Theresa May’s government to clinch a deal over a transition period of two years to help ease uncertainty about the impact of Brexit. The City of London Corporation – the local authority for the Square Mile – last week warned an agreement was needed by the end of the year.

Without an agreement, City firms are planning for a “hard Brexit”, one where the UK leaves the EU without access to the single market or retains any of its previous-style trading arrangements.


Jill Treanor

The GuardianTramp

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