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Ahead of Brexit, Barclays seeks court approval to move £224bn assets to Ireland

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Barclays is one step closer to shifting a chunk of its business before Brexit on 29 March 2019, after court filings showed the banking giant will seek final approval from the High Court in January next year to move over £200bn ($254bn) in assets to its Irish subsidiary.

The bank, which said earlier this year that the unit will absorb £224bn of its total £1.17tn in assets, told the High Court that it will move around 6,800 clients, mainly from the European Economic Area, to Dublin.

About 5,500 of those clients will come from its corporate, investment, and private banking divisions, while 1,290 clients, with deposits of about £1.4bn, will come from its deposit-taking business.

A judgment handed down by Judge Antony Zacaroli revealed that the application for the move filed by Barclays assumes that its UK divisions will lose their “passporting” rights, the mechanism that allows them to do business in other EU countries.

The transfer will see parts of the Barclays Bank PLC and Barclays Capital Securities LTD divisions, as well as its Barclaycard business in Germany, legally transferred to Barclays Bank Ireland PLC, in a move that will make Barclays Ireland’s largest bank by assets. Bank of Ireland, which has around £109bn in assets, is currently Ireland’s largest bank.

Zacaroli told Barclays that it should assume the High Court had the authority to approve the legal transfer, following uncertainty over legal jurisdiction. The judgement noted that, had that guidance not been given, Barclays would have had to amend agreements with a “very large” number of clients within its securities business.

The court will also rule in January as to what steps Barclays must take with respect to EU clients who have signed contracts governed by English law.

The bank, which will move into its new Dublin offices in November, expects to be fully operational in Ireland by March 2019, and has already begun expanding its Irish workforce by around 200 people.