Brexit forces insurers to move to Brussels

Following the decision by Lloyd’s to potentially locate a European subsidiary in Brussels, in anticipation of the consequences of Brexit, now the insurer QBE Insurance Group Ltd (“QBE”) is also opting for a move to the Belgian capital. This is reported in the Financial Times (“the FT”) today (Tuesday). Financial institutions are seeking European bases to ensure continued direct access to the European Single Market post-Brexit. This is in response to the majority of Britons voting to leave the European Union in June of last year.

The Director of the National Bank of Belgium (known as the “BNB”), Marcia De Wachter, had indicated at the end of May that Belgium was attracting interest from several financial players. Such players have contacted the BNB to register their interest in relocating to Belgium post-Brexit.

The insurer QBE Insurance Group Ltd is thus one such organisation. The Director of European Operations, quoted by the FT, says that Belgium has been chosen as it already comprises the most significant share of the group’s European operations. In addition, QBE were impressed by the “pragmatic” approach of BNB. Between 70 and 80 individuals work for QBE in Brussels.

QBE’s staff numbers should not reduce within its London headquarters, and the number likely to be hired in Brussels is not yet known. The new Brussels base should be operational by the end of 2018.

Moreover, the FT writes that the choice of Brussels is a severe blow for Dublin. The capital of the Republic of Ireland was hoping to become a nerve centre for British insurers post-Brexit. This was owing to its language, legislative structures and proximity to London. However it seems that several players would prefer to be based on the continent, as is the case with Lloyd's of London and QBE.

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