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After review, HSBC decides to keep headquarters in London

LONDON – International bank HSBC said Sunday it has decided to keep its headquarters in London after considering a move to Hong Kong in response to tougher U.K. banking regulations.

In a statement, the bank said that London was a global financial centre, “and home to a large pool of highly skilled, international talent. It remains therefore ideally positioned to be the home base for a global financial institution such as HSBC.”

A headquarters move would have been a huge blow to Britain’s Conservative government, which wants to retain London’s status as a global financial power.

The bank said the board’s decision had been unanimous.

Chief executive Stuart Gulliver said “having our headquarters in the U.K. and our significant business in Asia Pacific delivers the best of both worlds to our stakeholders.”

Europe’s largest bank by market value, HSBC announced last year that it was reviewing the location of its headquarters.

The bank has been steadily shifting its centre of gravity toward the fast-growing Asian economies. It has suffered a series of regulatory fines and crackdowns in Europe and the U.S. and wants to capitalize on Asia’s rapidly expanding class of newly wealthy.

It also has warned of the economic risks facing Britain if the country opts to leave the European Union in a referendum that is due by next year, and complained about the cost of a levy that the British government put on banks after the 2008 global financial crisis.

British Treasury chief George Osborne announced in last year’s budget that the bank levy would gradually be reduced.

Britain’s Treasury said HSBC’s decision was “a vote of confidence in the government’s economic plan, and a boost to our goal of making the U.K. a great place to do more business with China and the rest of Asia.”