Two of the world's best known banks are on the verge of signing a deal to open UK headquarters in Birmingham.
An agreement which will bring nearly 5,000 jobs to city centre premises is believed to be weeks away from being concluded by Locate In Birmingham - the city council's inward investment arm - and Advantage West Midlands.
News of the venture was broken by council leader Mike Whitby, who told a meeting at WH Ireland Stockbrokers in Colmore Row on Thursday that the deal was "imminent".
Council officials were reluctant to discuss the matter last night, insisting that negotiations are at a delicate stage.
There are also fears that world stock market turbulence and uncertain economic conditions could delay approval.
It is understood that about 700 new jobs will be created by the smaller of the two banks - a major European financial institution seeking to move its back office facilities to the UK.
Some 4,000 jobs are involved in the second proposal, which involves consolidating a bank's regional operation into a new 350,000 sq ft office in Birmingham city centre.
Councillor Whitby has often spoken of his wish to improve the image of Birmingham as a major European business city by attracting global financial players.
A council source said: "A major operator is seriously contemplating moving here. We are in advanced negotiations.
"You could certainly say that it is a household name bank.
"Architects have been instructed, offices are being designed. This is very, very serious."
The council is expected to formally announce the bank deals at the MIPIM international property show in the south of France in March.