By Pamela Barbaglia and Andrés González
LONDON/MADRID (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs <GS.N> is moving one of its senior London-based dealmakers to Madrid as part of a plan to strengthen its European network ahead of Brexit, sources familiar with the matter said.
Jorge Alcover, a 43-year old managing director from Catalonia, is in the process of relocating to Madrid after serving the Wall Street bank for more than a decade out of its London office in Fleet Street, the sources said.
Alcover heads Goldman's debt capital markets operations for Spain and Portugal and he is also in charge of corporate and public sector derivatives in the region.
He moved up through the ranks by arranging some of Iberia's biggest government and corporate loans while being based in Britain and was named managing director in 2010.
A spokesman for Goldman Sachs confirmed that Alcover will move to Madrid in April but said the decision was not related to Brexit.
"We have a global strategy to grow and expand our footprint by getting closer to our clients," the spokesman said.
"This really has nothing to do with Brexit as you can see with what we're doing in our regional approach in the U.S.," he said pointing to cities like Seattle and San Francisco where the bank has moved its client-facing financing teams closer to the companies they advise.
Goldman has about 15 investment bankers in Madrid, the sources said, and may see more Spanish nationals, currently employed in junior roles, shifting to the local office in the coming months.
"Having senior bankers based in Spain or Italy is really important to lure back young talents," one of the sources said. "They would no longer perceived it as a demotion if they see senior staff moving out of London."
Alcover will work closely with three other managing directors in Spain, namely country head Olaf Diaz-Pintado - who also co-heads the investment banking division in Europe - Juan de Dios Gómez-Villalba and Santiago Bau.
Goldman has so far kept most of its European bankers on its British payroll but it is starting to shift some EU nationals to their home countries or to other financial hubs like Frankfurt to better serve its EU clients after Brexit, the sources said.
Such moves mark a shift away from a business model that allowed banks to streamline operations and costs by covering European markets out of Britain.
The sources said Goldman decided to accelerate its plans to decentralise its London-centric operations after British Prime Minister Theresa May ruled out retaining passporting rights for financial services.
The loss of passporting rights - which currently enable finance firms to offer financial, advisory and trading services to corporate clients across all EU states via just one local licence - is a key concern for big international banks such as Goldman.
Goldman has recently put more than a dozen UK-based banking, sales and trading staff on notice to move to Frankfurt within weeks. Swiss bank UBS <UBSG.S> and Britain's Standard Chartered <STAN.L> have also braced for similar job moves.
Last year, Goldman's co-head of Italy decided to relocate to Milan alongside a handful of Italian bankers. The bank signed a lease for a new office in Milan, near the cathedral, for more than 100 people, increasing its local headcount almost six-fold.
(Editing by Jane Merriman)