Paris to woo British finance workers

PARIS • Paris could attract as many as 20,000 workers from Britain's finance industry, with the exodus potentially starting within weeks as Britain begins its withdrawal from the Euro- pean Union (EU).

Paris will make its case to London-based executives next month, competing for talent with rival cities such as Frankfurt. Europlace, the lobby group for the French capital, will claim that Paris already employs more than 180,000 financiers, is home to the region's biggest bond market and boasts the second-largest pool of asset managers.

The continental race to take advantage of Brexit is heating up as British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to trigger the start of negotiations by the end of March. Global bank chiefs have warned Mrs May that they will soon start shifting operations and jobs from Britain to the EU unless she can protect their easy access to its market.

"We feel decisions will be taken in the first semester of the new year," said Mr Arnaud de Bresson, Europlace's managing director.

The bankers say they want to establish new or expanded offices in the EU before Britain's exit, which is currently set for some time in 2019. Mrs May says she wants to strike the best deal for banks but has given no details.

HSBC said last year that it would move as many as 1,000 employees to Paris from London if voters backed Brexit, while Citigroup is considering relocating some of its London-based equity and interest rate derivatives traders to Frankfurt. British advocacy group TheCityUK has warned that almost 70,000 jobs are up for grabs.

Europlace will argue that Paris is better placed than other aspirants to London's crown. It touts the city as the top hub in continental Europe for interest rate swaps.

Europlace will argue that Paris is better placed than other aspirants to London's crown. It touts the city as the top hub in continental Europe for interest rate swaps trading, with some US$141 billion (S$204.5 billion) of the derivatives changing hands in France every day. That compares with US$1.18 trillion in Britain.

Paris will also promote itself as a city of requisite skills, in contrast with Frankfurt which employs fewer than 100,000 people in finance and Dublin with just 30,000. Another perceived asset is that French corporations are typically based in Paris, whereas German ones are spread around the country.

Yet although it hosts some of Europe's biggest banks, France has long lagged behind Britain and Germany as an international banking hub. The country is seen as hostile to financial companies and ranks 29th in the Global Financial Centres Index, one spot above Casablanca.

Its stock exchange, Euronext, is threatened by Deutsche Boerse's planned takeover of London Stock Exchange Group, and its tight labour laws have also put off bankers.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2017, with the headline 'Paris to woo British finance workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe