The Bank of England expects 130 financial firms from across Europe to apply for licenses to continue operating in Britain after Brexit, its Deputy Governor Sam Woods said on Tuesday.

Woods, who head’s the Bank’s Prudential Regulation Authority, also told the Reuters Financial Regulation Summit that he will have to decide by Christmas if branches of EU financial firms in London must convert into subsidiaries and be directly supervised by the PRA.

Woods was summarizing over 400 responses to his call for banks to spell out their plans if Britain leaves the EU in March 2019 without new trading arrangements or a transition deal in place.

The “outbounds” or UK based banks who want to maintain links with customers elsewhere in the EU, are more advanced in their thinking than the “inbounds,” or banks based elsewhere in the EU who want to continue serving UK customers, Woods said.

“We are having to push the inbounds to move on with their thinking,” Woods said.

“I think we are likely to see at least 130 applications to be authorized here in the UK. It’s significant stretch, but I think we can do that,” Woods added.

Woods said earlier this year that branches of EU banks in London might have to apply to become subsidiaries, a costly exercise that involves building up a buffer of capital and reserves locally. Branches rely on capital held by their parent and are mainly supervised by their home regulator.

Woods said on Tuesday he has two or three months left before deciding on branch conversions – barring news in coming weeks of a transition deal agreed by the EU as well as Britain.

“Broadly, come Christmas time, we will need to move into a different mode of receiving applications,” Woods said.

It would be “unwise” to rely on a transition agreement happening until there was some sense that the EU was also in favor of one, he said.

(Reporting by Rachel Armstrong, Huw Jones and Andrew MacAskill. Editing by Jane Merriman)

Topics Europe