According to the Financial Times, the move follows similar decisions by Crédit Agricole, Robeco and Nomura, to move their headquarters or staff from Bahrain to Dubai.
It said a “significant” number of back-office BNP Paribas staff is being asked to relocate from Bahrain, allowing the Dubai offices to act as a “secondary functions platform”.
The bank has operated in Bahrain since 1975 and its dedicated Islamic business, BNP Paribas Najmah, is also located there. A BNP Paribas spokesperson today said that the company had not issued a statement or press release in relation to the new offices.
Skirmishes between police and protestors were reported in Manama this month, marking the one-year anniversary of a campaign by Shia demonstrators demanding democratic reforms, including a new constitution and an end to discrimination by the Sunni royal family.
In March 2011, the Bahraini government enlisted military support from other Gulf Cooperation Council members, notably Saudi Arabia, to quash the uprising. But despite subsequent moves by King Hamad to engage with the protestors, dissatisfaction remains among the population.
Bahraini website Gulf Daily News reported this month that 120 expatriate labourers from construction firm AAA Homes were threatened by “masked youths” as they returned home from work, and forced to abandon the two buses they were travelling in.
Swiss firms undaunted
Despite the risk of further unrest, BNP’s decision contrasts with announcements by Swiss financial services firms Altaira Wealth Management and Notz, Stucki & Cie, both of which are setting up operations in Bahrain in 2012.