Banks will move some operations to Continent soon - Barclays

Huw Jones

(Adds more comments, Brexit minister)

LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - Banks in Britain will start

shifting some operations to Continental Europe reasonably soon

to avoid disrupting links with customers after Brexit, Barclays

Chief Executive Jes Staley said on Wednesday.

Britain has opened formal divorce talks with the European

Union though it is far from clear what levels of access

businesses will have to EU markets following the country's

departure, which is due in March 2019.

Staley said it would be hard to get full clarity on

Britain's new trading terms in the time banks need to guarantee

links to continental customers after Britain leaves.

"You will start to see movement in a reasonably short period

of time," Staley told a conference, saying that obtaining a

licence to trade on the continent and changing financial

contracts to another jurisdiction takes a year to 18 months.

Quickly securing the residency status of European Union

nationals in Britain was also critical, he said. Barclays has

3,000 EU nationals working in the country.

"Intellectual capital is perhaps the most important asset

that London as a financial centre has," Staley said.

He was speaking after Britain's Brexit minister, David

Davis, told the conference in London that the country's place in

the world was being reshaped.

"Securing an agreement with the EU within the two-year

period about our withdrawal and the shape of our future

relationship will be challenging," Davis said.

HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint told the conference

that banks were looking for clarity on whether there would be an

implementation phase between Brexit and the start of new trading

terms - and how long any such phase would be.

"It would be better to get a good deal in a reasonably short

period of time, rather than a really excellent deal so far into

the future that people will have triggered all their contingency

plans," Flint said.

In Frankfurt, a Deutsche Bank executive said the

bank was considering whether it needs to move thousands of staff

to Frankfurt from London due to Brexit.

"GET SOME SWAGGER"

Brexit has sparked jostling among continental financial

centres for a slice of London's financial business.

The InterContinental Exchange has been asked by

several EU members, including France, the Netherlands and

Germany, whether it would move its clearing operations to

mainland Europe, Chief Executive Jeff Sprecher said.

Several EU policymakers want clearing of euro denominated

transactions, which is now dominated by London, to be based

within the euro zone after Britain leaves the bloc.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told the BBC that it

was an issue of sovereignty and security, saying the majority of

clearing houses could not remain in London following Brexit.

Sprecher said Britain, by far the biggest financial centre

in the region, had a "strong hand" for negotiating new financial

services trading terms with Brussels.

"The UK should have a bit of swagger and not worry

so much about the details," he said.

Michael Spencer, CEO of trading platforms company NEX, said

most customers had chosen to clear in London and forcing them to

shift to mainland Europe would be "deeply bad" protectionism

that both fragments markets and forces continental customers to

trade in a smaller, less efficient market.

"The Europeans will effectively be penalising themselves.

Europe will be worse off. London will be worse off," he said.

(Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by David

Clarke)