Paris launches ad attack to poach London business

LONDON • With a quip about British fog and French frogs, Paris has begun an advertising campaign aimed at poaching business from London, after the Brexit vote raised questions about the future dominance of Europe's top financial capital.

Billboards showing a green frog wearing a tie sporting the colours of the French flag and the slogan "Tired of the fog? Try the Frogs! Choose Paris La Defense" are being put up at London's Heathrow Airport and the London Eurostar train station, showcasing the French capital's business district.

Some bankers have warned that London could gradually lose its position as the only financial capital to rival New York because foreign banks could move out after Brexit, draining London of talent, wealth and trading revenues.

London accounts for 41 per cent of global foreign exchange turnover, more than double the nearest competitor, New York, according to the Bank for International Settlements.

London's closest European competitors, Switzerland and Paris, each take about 3 per cent of global foreign exchange turnover. Around 85 per cent of European-based hedge funds are based in London, which is also the leading market for international insurance and reinsurance.

Officials from La Defense business district in Paris said the advertisements underscore the attractiveness of the French capital's financial powerhouse, with lower rentals and good public transport.

"As regrettable as Britain's exit from the European Union may be, we have to be pragmatic and promote our own assets," said Mr Patrick Devedjian, head of the council representing the Hauts-de-Seine district where La Defense is located.

The French government has also introduced extra tax concessions for expatriates in the hope that Paris could profit from Brexit. However, experts say other centres with more flexible labour and tax rules are likely to be bigger beneficiaries.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'Paris launches ad attack to poach London business'. Print Edition | Subscribe