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France to hold London roadshow to lure finance jobs to Paris

By Maya Nikolaeva, Jean-Baptiste Vey and Michel Rose | PARIS

PARIS French authorities will head to London next week for a roadshow to try to lure financial jobs to Paris which will show off the French capital’s advantages versus Frankfurt as an alternative to Britain’s financial centre.

Valerie Pecresse, the head of the wider Paris region and Gerard Mestrallet, president of France’s finance industry lobby Europlace, will next Monday meet executives from BlackRock, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and others to present a study by McKinsey, aimed at highlighting the attractions of Paris.

In the run up to Britain’s June vote on Brexit, leading financial firms said they would move jobs out of the country if there was a vote to leave but have set out few details since on how many will go or where to.

“The battle narrows down to Paris and Frankfurt,” a spokesman for Pecresse told Reuters.

HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, has said it could move a part of its operations to Paris. HSBC already has a large subsidiary in Paris that holds most of the licences needed by an investment bank.

“There will be others,” one French minister, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

Paris has a network of international law firms and asset managers and the city is also home to the European markets authority, ESMA and has its own financial supervisor, which looks after some of the largest banks in the eurozone, French officials say.

“We have a very good supervisor and that’s important for American banks,” a source at the French finance ministry said.

Also in Paris’s favour is its status as Europe’s only other “world city” alongside London, with some of the most-visited cultural attractions in the world and the headquarters of many multinational companies, French authorities say.

Germany is also on a charm offensive to attract finance jobs from Britain. The country’s senior regulators met about 50 envoys from foreign banks on Monday to explain how they could move business to Europe’s biggest economy after Britain leaves the European Union, German financial watchdog Bafin said.

Beyond the financial sector, Paris’s allure has recently been boosted by an influx of investment in its tech sector, with Facebook choosing the French capital to open its first ever start-up incubator.

But French officials have acknowledged France’s strict labour laws can put off businesses.

The finance ministry source said the French administration was working on ways to allow firms to lay off teams of 50 people or so more easily, but this could not be implemented before the presidential election this spring.

Nordine Hachemi, chairman and chief executive of Kaufman & Broad, a France-based property developer and builder, is optimistic about Paris’s attractions but expects any actual moves to take time.

“We should be realistic, no-one is going to rush to settle in Paris,” Hachemi told Reuters, adding that he saw no impact from Brexit on the property market with regards to companies considering relocation plans.

“This will take time … There is competition with other European cities, there is no impact at this stage,” he said.

Behind the scenes though, companies and employees are already making enquiries with French institutions about practical matters.

Ecole Internationale Bilingue, one of Paris’ most prestigious bilingual schools, told Reuters they received quite a lot of registration requests from British-based families who were concerned about the consequences of Brexit.

(Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva, Jean-Baptiste Vey and Michel Rose; Additional reporting by Emmanuel Jarry, Julien Ponthus and Matthieu Protard. Editing by Jane Merriman)


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