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Brexit battle: Paris sends raiding party to London to seduce bankers

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Brexit battle: Paris sends raiding party to London to seduce bankers
Photo: AFP
11:59 CET+01:00
Paris once again made a move to profit from all the uncertainty around Brexit by sending a crack team to London to woo bank and finance chiefs back across the Channel.

The French government and city leaders in Paris have made no secret of their desire to take advantage of the insecurity of some finance firms in London with Brexit looming large.

Since the British public voted for EU divorce last June, France has taken several steps to entice companies and banks to up sticks and move across the Channel. They've cut red tape and even published documents in English.

In January there was perhaps proof that the charm offensive was working when HSBC said it would likely switch 1,000 jobs to Paris from London given Britain's departure from the EU.

On Monday the French capital, one of many European cities fighting for post-Brexit business, stepped up its offensive by sending dignitaries to London to meet with bankers, insurance firms and asset managers to persuade them to move their activities to Paris.

“The battle is tightening between Paris and Frankfurt,” said a spokesperson for Valerie Pécresse, the head of the Ile-de-France region, who led Monday's raiding party to London.

Alongside Pécresse will be Gérard Mestrallet, who is president of Paris Europlace, the body responsible for promoting the French financial sector.

Mestrellet will present a comparative study demonstrating the attractiveness of Paris.

He will be accompanied by Australian Ross McInness, who was appointed ambassador to the new one-stop shop called Choose Paris Region.

It was set up in November to provide firms everything they and their staff needed to relocate across the Channel.

"Anyone who's worked in France for the last few years knows to go beyond some of the cliches and look at hard facts, hard figures," he told Reuters at the time.

"This is a business-friendly country," he said, before telling journalists "When was the last time you booked a weekend in Frankfurt?” 

However despite the push to make Paris seem more attractive to international firms, there are some, including the World Bank, who believe the country has a long way to go before it can really rival other global cities for business.

In October the World Bank gave France a reality check in its bid to attract Brexit business.

In its global ranking Doing Business 2017 France was placed down in 29th position for the “ease of doing business”, one lower than the previous year's position.

While 29 out of 190 doesn't sound bad, when you consider the likes of Georgia, Macedonia and Latvia are ahead of France, it doesn't look so rosy.

No disrespect to those countries, but it's clearly not where France would want to be as it is desperate to see its economy grow and to woo business from Britain.

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