US bank Citigroup renames Frankfurt office as post-Brexit plans take hold

Citigroup is renaming its Frankfurt office as the Wall Street giant prepares to turn its German operations into its post-Brexit EU headquarters.

The Press Association understands that the bank is changing the name of the legal entity to "Citigroup Global Markets Europe" this week, replacing its previous "Deutschland" designation.

The move helps prepare the site for a new licence - yet to be approved by the German regulator - that will convert the Frankfurt subsidiary into a broker-dealer and pave the way for an enlarged sales and trading operation outside of London.

Citigroup bankers were officially notified of the lender's plans to bulk up its Frankfurt office - which currently houses 350 staff - last summer.

It expects to create approximately 150 new roles across the EU, though the bank stressed that "in all cases" London would remain both its headquarters for its European, Middle East and Asia operations and "an important global hub for Citi".

An internal memo detailed plans to ramp up a number of divisions including private banking, corporate and investment banking and capital markets by increasing its footprint in other EU financial hubs including Amsterdam, Dublin, Luxembourg, Madrid and Paris.

Citi currently employs around 9,000 staff in the UK, 6,000 of whom are based in the City of London.

Citibank's European boss Zdenek Turek said earlier this year that Citi spoke to German regulators about shifting some of its European client investment activities from London to Frankfurt, according to a Bloomberg report.

He added that the Frankfurt broker-dealer was expected to be up and running by year-end.

The name change comes as a number of firms confirm the approval of post-Brexit banking licences across the EU.

Nomura announced just weeks ago that it had clinched a securities trading licence for its Frankfurt operations from German regulator BaFin.

Under 100 staff are expected to be relocated from the UK as a result.

RSA also confirmed earlier this month that it has licence approval for its new insurance subsidiary in Luxembourg from local regulator Commissariat aux Assurances.

Around half a dozen of RSA's UK staff will make the initial move to Luxembourg.

The news comes as Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Capital Markets confirmed it will base its EU headquarters in Frankfurt, where it expects to boost its local team by 20 to 40 staff, according to a report by German newspaper Handelsblatt.

However, few staff are likely to be relocated from London, where the investment bank employs around 100 staff.

Hubertus Vath, managing director of Frankfurt Main Finance, said it was a sign of further foreign bank moves on the horizon.

"RBC Capital Markets is the first Canadian institution to announce in favour of Frankfurt - but based on talks I had on my recent trip to Toronto and Montreal, we should expect similar decisions to follow in the coming months."