Saturday 21 April 2018

It's Dublin v Paris in battle to woo UK finance jobs

Valerie Pecresse, the head of the regional government.
Valerie Pecresse, the head of the regional government.

Mark Deen

The French have thrown down the gauntlet to the Irish in the battle to secure the benefits of the so-called Brexit Bounce.

Four thousand British executives have just received a love letter from Paris. The letter, written by the head of the Paris regional government to officials of companies of all sizes a day after the UK voted to leave the European Union on June 23, extols the business advantages of the French capital.

Listing everything from location and infrastructure to a well-trained workforce and world-class services, it makes a case for them to move operations and jobs to the region.

"The Paris region offers an unparalleled quality of life," with its hospitals, schools and cultural offerings among its strong points, Valerie Pecresse, the head of the regional government, wrote in the letter.

The French move should serve as something of a wake-up call to Dublin and other cities across Europe which are now eyeing the spoils of the British referendum result, and making a pitch to businesses large and small that want to secure access to the single market of the remaining 27 EU countries.

French and German politicians have already been sparring over whether Frankfurt or Paris should take over London's euro-clearing business.

Paris Europlace, a lobby for the French financial industry, is using its annual conference next Wednesday to lay out the case for Paris over its competitors. Unusually, Prime Minister Manuel Valls will speak at Europlace's banquet lunch, taking the stage with Pecresse and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau pledged that all bank licence applications from other EU member states will be processed swiftly.

"We will do more in the future to enhance the attractiveness of the Paris financial centre. The government will do its part," Villeroy de Galhau said, hinting that Valls will make an announcement in his lunchtime speech.

"We're urging British business to think about what's next, move on and come to Europe," Pecresse said in an interview. "Let's not be naive: This is a competition and others also want these jobs."

Pecresse, a former Cabinet minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, is pressing President Francois Hollande to drop any thought of imposing a financial transaction tax that countries such as Ireland and the Netherlands haven't signed up to.

She said she will be sending the Socialist a letter in coming days in which she argues that the government needs to make itself more fiscally attractive to expatriates by offering them special tax regimes and no levies on foreign earnings.

The Paris government estimates that about 30,000 financial sector jobs are up for grabs with the UK's departure from the EU, with approximately 30,000 more posts possible from other industries.

With 12 million residents and a geographic position that offers easy rail access to London, Brussels, western Germany, the Alps and the Mediterranean, there is no reason why the French capital can't compete, Pecresse and other French officials say.

"We're the only truly global city seeking this business,"she said. "Frankfurt doesn't have our depth, Dublin is on Europe's periphery."

(Bloomberg, with assistance from Francois de Beaupuy and Geraldine Amiel)

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