HONG KONG (Reuters) - Insurance market Lloyd’s of London, an integral part of the British business scene since the 17th century, is on track to start operations at its Brussels unit next January, its chief executive said on Monday.
Lloyd’s has been among the most vocal financial businesses on the need for a European Union subsidiary if Britain has no access to the single market after leaving the bloc and is one of the first to announce such a move.
Lloyd’s, which started life in Edward Lloyd’s coffee house in 1688, houses more than 80 syndicates in a building in the City of London. Its syndicates focus on specialist insurance and reinsurance in anything from oil rigs to athletes’ legs.
The venerable insurance market said last March that it had chosen Brussels as the site for its EU subsidiary because of its strong regulatory framework.
“We are hiring people, we hope to make some appointments shortly. We will have the Brussels subsidiary up and running by January 1, 2019,” Chief Executive Inga Beale told Reuters on the sidelines of a financial forum in Hong Kong.
“That is ahead of the actual official exit, but we run a market and we want to be ready for all of our businesses and syndicates that operate within the market. That’s why we are really pushing ahead.”
Beale said that the application for setting up the Brussels subsidiary was with the Belgium regulator and that Lloyd’s is seeking office space and putting technology systems in place.
“The only thing that might change it ... is any sort of delay to an actual impact of Brexit,” she said, referring to the launch plan.
On the hiring plans for the Brussels unit, Beale said “it will be in the tens, probably, up to 40 or something”, adding that the group would also move some roles from other centres to the new subsidiary.
Lloyd’s, which earns about 10 percent of its global revenue from insurance premiums underwritten in Asia Pacific, has also been expanding in the region and set up an onshore presence in India last year.
Its major markets in the Asia Pacific region include China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore.
“It’s very, very important and we will be growing,” Beale said, referring to the Asia Pacific region, adding that there is growing demand for insurance providing coverage for political risk, terrorism and cyber breaches.
Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by David Goodman