After months of weighing moving its headquarters to a locale with less stringent regulations, like Hong Kong, HSBC, the biggest bank in Europe, has decided to remain based in London, the company said in a statement Monday.
The board decided unanimously that "the best location for the headquarters of the Group" was the United Kingdom, it said, due to the country's "important and globally connected economy" that boasted "an internationally respected regulatory framework and legal system, and immense experience in handling complex international affairs." London also offered a large pool of talent, it said.
Nonetheless, Asia remained "at the heart" of HSBC's strategy of "supporting trade and investment flows across the world's major trade corridors," the company said.
The bank said in April that it would formally review the location of its headquarters, given an increase in regulatory requirements in Britain, as well as a 2010 tax levied on banks to help generate revenue to prop up the financial system. That levy applied to British banks' operations globally, whereas foreign banks were taxed only on their revenue in the U.K. Since 2012, HSBC's contributions under that tax have grown from $472 million to about $1.1 billion in 2014, the New York Times reported.
Nevertheless, “having our headquarters in the UK and our significant business in Asia Pacific delivers the best of both worlds to our stakeholders," Stuart Gulliver, HSBC Group's chief executive, said in a statement.
The review itself consisted of weighing criteria ranging from the regulatory environment, future growth prospects and the financial impact of a move. The group has conducted that review every three years, until now; the board decided it would not be necessary to continue doing so, saying it would "only revisit the matter if there is a material change in circumstances."
HSBC was founded in 1865 in Hong Kong as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The bank moved its headquarters to the U.K. in 1993.