WARSAW/LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. bank JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N) is zooming in on Warsaw as a destination for its new back office operations centre which could eventually employ several thousand people supporting the bank's European and Asian business, sources said.
As Britain prepares to leave the European Union, and banks and other financial firms look to shift jobs from London's financial centre, Poland has set its sights on mid-tier work where salaries may not be astronomical but jobs are numerous.
A delegation from JPMorgan visited Warsaw last month, the sources said, to look for real estate that could house the new centre, which could become of the largest of its kind in Poland.
"The focus is definitely Warsaw," said one source familiar with the matter, speaking anonymously as discussions are not public.
JPMorgan has also visited Poland's western city of Wroclaw and Hungary's capital Budapest as possible contenders, the source added.
"There were serious talks last month. It looks like they are close to picking Poland but never say never until deal is signed," another source said.
Plans to create the centre were not connected to Britain decision to exit the EU, the first source said.
JPMorgan declined to comment on its plans.
Poland, the EU's largest eastern economy, has already established itself as a major offshoring site for banks.
The country has a population of 38 million and a relatively high-skilled and inexpensive workforce - average wages are roughly three times lower than in neighbouring Germany.
Goldman Sachs (GS.N) already has 300 people working in the Polish capital and is seeking 200 people more, while Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) employs several thousand people in Warsaw and Wroclaw. UBS (UBSG.S) has also based large IT and back office administrative operations in the country.
The estimates of financial services jobs moved from all Western countries to Poland range from 35,000 to 45,000, with Britain's decision to exit the EU seen accelerating the process.
A third source familiar with the matter said Warsaw was likely to emerge as the winner.
"JP Morgan wants to hire 2,500 people and only Warsaw has a job market which is deep enough to bear with such an investment," the source said.
Another Warsaw-based real estate source that although there was not enough prime real estate to accommodate several thousand employees right now, it could become available over the next year or so.
JPMorgan would likely start with a few dozen people on the ground in the Polish capital by the end of year if plans are finalised, the first source said.
Reporting by Anjuli Davis, Marcin Goclowski, and Marcin Goettig; Writing by Marcin Goettig; Editing by Louise Heavens