Royal London makes £1bn Irish move as Brexit looms

Royal London has been given approval to transfer over £1 billion worth of assets to Ireland as the fund manager steps up its Brexit contingency planning.

The group, which has £114 billion in total funds under management, received approval from the High Court on Tuesday for the move, which involves over 500,000 policies.

It is designed to deal with the consequences of a no-deal hard Brexit, in which Britain’s financial services sector would lose passporting rights that allow them to function in the EU’s single market, the world’s richest trading bloc.

In approving the switch to Dublin, Mr Justice Snowden said in his judgement: “In common with many other financial institutions, Royal London is concerned that in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit it will lose the ‘passporting’ rights which currently enable it to rely upon its authorisation in the UK to carry out regulated activities to service its policyholders in other European Economic Area member states.

“To address this possibility, Royal London wishes to transfer its long-term business with policyholders in the EEA to RLI, which is be authorised and regulated in the Republic of Ireland, and thus able to service the policies concerned after Brexit, whatever form that may take.”

Just over £1 billion gross is transferring, but because the business is being reinsured, the net asset transfer amounts to £10.5 million.

Royal London has told its policyholders that even if an agreement between Britain and the EU were to be reached permitting it to continue administering the policies from the UK after Brexit, it is now “committed to the transfer”.

Royal London’s new Ireland arm has been capitalised with 40 million euros from the parent company and one-off costs of the transfer are estimated to be £21 million.

Several banks – including the Baclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and a host of others – have set up continental hubs in preparation for Britain’s exit from the EU.

This involves hundreds of jobs and hundreds of billions in assets being shifted out of London, hitting the Treasury’s tax revenue and denting the capital’s reputation as a financial centre.

Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of Brexit.

For its part, Royal London is creating 20 new jobs in Dublin.