BRUSSELS: US money transfer giant MoneyGram has picked Brussels as a possible alternative to London for its EU headquarters after Brexit, it emerged on Friday.
Texas-based MoneyGram follows a long list of global companies that are contingency planning for Britain's impending divorce from the EU, set for March 2019.
The choice marks a success for the Belgian capital, once dubbed a "hell hole" by US Presidency Donald Trump, as several European cities battle to take over London as the financial hub in Europe.
"MoneyGram contacted the Belgian national bank last spring about moving its European headquarters from London to Brussels," said Geert Sciot, a spokesman for the BNB, Belgium's central bank.
MoneyGram received its license "a few weeks ago", which was a necessary step if MoneyGram wanted to keep operating in the EU after Britain's departure, Sciot said.
The license provides MoneyGram "passporting" rights -- which allows companies to trade across EU member state borders, providing a gateway to access the rest of the bloc.
Sciot said the central bank insisted that the move "create jobs in Belgium and that MoneyGram not only set up a letterbox."
Without confirming a possible move of its European headquarters, the US group told London's Daily Telegraph it had "recently been authorised by the BNB to practice as a payments provider".
Insurance giant Lloyd's sent tremors in Britain in 2016 when it announced it was to open a Brussels office just hours after the shock result of the Brexit referendum.