(Bloomberg) -- UBS Group AG may have to move as many as 1,500 jobs from London to elsewhere in the region in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, Chief Executive Officer Sergio Ermotti said.

"We currently employ more than 5,000 people in London, and probably 20 percent to 30 percent of our workforce could be affected," Ermotti said in an interview with Japanese newspaper Nikkei. "We believe that London will continue to be an important financial center, although maybe not as important as it is today."

Passporting, the ability of banks to freely sell services and products across the EU, is one part of negotiations between the U.K. and the trading bloc. Ermotti said UBS is “well prepared” for any outcome. The bank opened a new office building for its staff in London last month.

UBS is among banks that need to figure out how to continue providing services to EU countries if Brexit makes it impossible to do so from London. While no major firm has moved its operations away from London yet, cities from Frankfurt to Madrid are trying to woo financial institutions following the referendum.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeffrey Vögeli in Zurich at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simone Meier at, Michael J. Moore, Jon Menon

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