HSBC is to consider moving its headquarters out of the UK, chairman Douglas Flint has revealed.
Mr Flint said the banking giant was responding to “regulatory and structural reforms” in the industry in the wake of the financial crisis.
These include, in the UK, the need to separate its investment banking arm from the retail division serving ordinary customers and businesses.
Shareholders have urged the bank to consider moving its headquarters to Asia, probably back to Hong Kong, due to a hefty UK bank tax and other costs associated with being based in London.
Mr Flint said: “As part of the broader strategic review taking place, the board has therefore now asked management to commence work to look at where the best place is for HSBC to be headquartered in this new environment.
“The question is a complex one and it is too soon to say how long this will take or what the conclusion will be, but the work is under way.”