HSBC says it is considering moving its headquarters from Britain in the wake of "regulatory and structural reforms" imposed after the 2008 financial crisis.
Chairman Douglas Flint says the board has asked management "to commence work to look at where the best place is for HSBC to be headquartered in this new environment."
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Flint said Friday that the bank was responding to reforms including a demand to separate its investment and retail banking arms in Britain.
Flint also mentioned uncertainty about whether Britain will remain in the European Union.
Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to hold a referendum on whether to leave the 28-nation bloc if he is re-elected next month.
Flint said HSBC believed that reforming the EU from within was "far less risky than going it alone."