HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver says that a decision on the proposed relocation of the bank's headquarters from London to Hong Kong may not come by the time the bank releases its next quarterly results in February.
Speaking to the Guardian's Jill Treanor, Gulliver said there would be an “update” on the deliberations by the time the bank releases financial results on Feb. 22. He added, however, that he did not know if there would be a decision on the move by that date.
HSBC, the world's fourth-largest bank by assets, announced that it was reviewing its domicile in April last year, as a result of what it saw as excessive taxation and regulation in the U.K.
Of particular concern to HSBC, was the U.K.'s banking levy, a tax on the value of all debts on banks' balance sheets, which was introduced in 2011. The levy was intended to discourage banks from the kind of risky lending that helped bring about the 2008 financial crisis, and raise money for the U.K. treasury.
The success of the pro-business Conservative party in the country's general election in May 2015, however, was seen as likely to change the business climate for financial institutions operating in the U.K. In his autumn statement, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced that the rate of the bank levy would be gradually reduced from 0.21 percent to 0.10 percent over the next 6 years.
Some of the bank's major shareholders have been at odds over the merits of any proposed move. David Cumming, head of equities at shareholder Standard Life, told the Telegraph late last year that HSBC could be “very, very close to losing patience,” as regulators continue to increase the burden on lenders.
However, Martin Gilbert, chief executive of major HSBC shareholder Aberdeen Asset Management, said in an interview cited by the Financial Times: “The logistics of moving their headquarters out of London are so vast . . . I suspect much as they might want to move their headquarters, they will probably on balance stay here.”