Tuesday 20 February 2018

Dublin beats Paris but losing to Frankfurt in Brexit bid

The proposed Exo Building will vie for the title of Dublin's tallest office building.
The proposed Exo Building will vie for the title of Dublin's tallest office building.
Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Dublin is ahead of Paris but losing out to Frankfurt in the bid to attract financial services firms looking to relocate from London in the wake of Brexit.

That's according to the latest intelligence gathered by Colliers International EMEA director of client services, Peter Leyburn, from his consulations with the firm's affiliates and contacts in the three cities acknowledged as the leading contenders for post-Brexit business.

While speculation continues to abound in relation to the potential exodus of banks and bankers from the UK capital, Leyburn's information shows that, to date, deals for the movement of less than 6,000 'desks' [roles] to Frankfurt, Dublin and Paris have been signed.

He said: "I've got people on the ground, particularly in Frankfurt, Paris and here in Dublin, who are feeding information back to me, and telling me who's in the market, who's taking space and what's happening. What's interesting for me is how few deals are actually being done at the moment. I've counted less than 6,000 desks between those three markets. At the moment, Frankfurt is about 3,700 desks, Dublin is about 1,150 and Paris is about 1,000 desks. That adds up to about 5,850 desks. Those are things that are signed."

Leyburn also revealed how numerous companies are still hedging their bets on the ultimate outcome of the UK's Brexit negotiations with the EU by taking six-month options on properties as opposed to leases to accommodate longer-term relocations.

"What's happening in Frankfurt particularly is the companies are taking six-month options while they wait to see what happens. They're not taking leases yet," Leyburn told the 'Brexit: After the Bubble Bursts' conference at the Bord Gais Theatre in Dublin last Tuesday.

Elsewhere in his contribution to the event, which was organised by Greenman Investments, Leyburn warned that Europe and its cities run the risk of losing out to New York in the competition to replace London as a major financial hub.

He said: "There is not a single city that can compete with London as a new financial hub in Europe. This is one of the dangers we see. If Brexit for the UK means we lose EU passporting rights, and that London loses euro denominated clearing, it could be that New York benefits more than Europe. There is a view that Europe could cut off its nose to spite its face."

Referring to the difficulties presented by the worst-case sceanario for London's financial services sector, he said: "If 100,000 jobs had to relocate, the key phrase here is that 'jobs follow people', not vice versa. So it's all about where the available talent is in those cities. We've done some research on the available talent that's able to operate within the financial services sector and what additional talent there is in terms of new graduates. If you had to relocate 100,000 people [jobs], they would have to go to at least nine different centres across Europe."

The movement of 100,000 banking jobs from London isn't a scenario that's being comtemplated currently however.

"In London, they really don't know what's going to happen. It's very much a 'wait and see'. The sentiment we pick up from talking to our many financial services clients is that the 'project fear' we saw with Brexit is unlikely to come to reality. We're probably not talking about the relocation of 100,000 jobs from London," Leyburn said.

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