UBS gets approval to move some U.K. jobs to Germany amid Brexit

A judge Tuesday approved plans by a UBS Group unit to shift some U.K. jobs and operations to Frankfurt.

Judge Alastair Norris in London said the bank's plans were a response to the "external shock of Brexit" rather than being driven by a desire for "commercial advantage" or "internal rationalization." The changes will see some operations shifted to the bank's German unit from the U.K. Fewer than 200 jobs are expected to be transferred.

UBS — which said it was forced to take the move because of the U.K.'s plan to leave the European Union — is the latest bank to go to court for permission to activate Brexit plans, with the country's scheduled departure now just weeks away. Barclays PLC won permission just last week to transfer large parts of its business from Britain to its Dublin-based subsidiary if needed, in another Brexit-driven move.

UBS has "diligently assessed the impact and attempted to minimize or mitigate the impact" of its plans, Mr. Norris said in his judgment. Its plans strike "an appropriate balance" between providing certainty to clients and coping with the "exigencies of transferring to a different jurisdiction," he said.

The plans, due to take effect on March 1, will see the bank transferring the entire business of its English unit, UBS Ltd., to its German-based UBS Europe SE, in a move that will make the German unit big enough to be regulated by the European Central Bank. Some of the English unit's business is being kept in the country by being transferred to UBS' London branch before March 1, including some cash equities, rates and credit and exchange traded derivatives.

Earlier Tuesday, the bank's lawyers applied for permission to bring in the changes, saying the bank was being forced to do so because Brexit brings a "real and immediate risk" that it might lose the right to conduct some operations in the European Union.

UBS set out plans in March 2018 to move operations to Europe, and the court hearing was the final step needed to activate the proposals.