London, May 19: Deutsche Bank has set up a "working group" to review wheather to move bulk of its UK divisions to Germany if Britain were to exit the EU following a referendum that Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to hold by 2017.
"It is early days and no decisions have been made," said a spokesperson for the German lender. Cameron has promised a referendum on the UK's European Union membership by the end of 2017, and prospects of an exit have become commonly referred to as "Brexit."
Deutsche Bank's UK business is based out of the financial district in London, known as the City. It employs 9,000 people in the UK, where it has its operations since 1873.
The German lender is the first of the global banks to publicly state that it is formally examining the potential fallout from an "in-out" referendum, according to 'Financial Times' newspaper.
HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, had previously launched a review into moving operations overseas but this had been thought to be related to banking laws in the UK such as the bank levy, which is effectively a tax on banks.
According to Deutsche Bank, the group will do "scenario-based planning" on the implications of an EU exit on the bank's presence in the UK, including whether it would be advantageous for certain activities to be repatriated to the eurozone, specifically to Germany.
"We are the eurozone's second-largest bank based on assets. We have 16 locations in the UK, down from 21 five years ago, with just under 9,000 employees here. Unlike other banks, our review is not based on the UK banking levy, but on the Brexit potential," the spokesperson said.
Many businesses have urged the government to bring forward the referendum to end the prolonged wait. An Ipsos Mori survey in February, which polled over 100 chairman and executive directors of the UK's 500 biggest companies, found concerns about abandoning the EU within British boardrooms.
The survey showed that although 45 per cent captains of industry wanted to be part of an economic community, without political links, just 1 per cent would be happy to leave it all together. Just under half (45 per cent) wanted to continue the relationship with the EU as it stands.