UK banks have slipped further down a benchmark list of global brands and no longer occupy any of the top five places, as regulatory controls limit scope for international expansion.
In the list of the top 1,000 global banks, compiled by the Financial Times' banking trade publication The Banker, Britain's highest ranked bank, HSBC, slipped to ninth position based on the size of its core equity capital reserves, a key measure of financial strength.
According to the Daily Telegraph, as recently as 2008 HSBC had been the largest bank in the world by this measure and Royal Bank of Scotland was third. RBS, which fell from grace during the crisis that year and is now majority owned by the taxpayer, has dropped from 15th to 19th position. Barclays and Standard Chartered also fell, from 12th to 13th and 34th to 39th respectively.
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The top two places were taken by Chinese banks – the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank – CNBC reports. A third Chinese bank, Bank of China, also made the top five. The Banker says Asia-Pacific banks now account for more than half of global profits for the sector.
Successive rounds of regulation have sought to curtail British banks' ambition in the wake of the financial crisis, demanding that retail banking operations be ring-fenced from so-called "casino" investment banking. The sector has also been hit with a £3bn levy and recent curbs on bonuses that go beyond those imposed anywhere else in the world.
The Banker's Editor Brian Caplen told The Independent that "we may have seen the end of the UK-based global bank".
HSBC has suggested that it may seek to move its headquarters back to Hong Kong in what has been widely perceived as an attempt to persuade the government to relax its approach to the industry. The Financial Times reports this morning that French and Belgian banks Credit Suisse and ING may also seek to restrict their UK operations.
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