Paris attempts to lure business from London with new
skyscrapers City promises seven new towers to ‘accommodate the new talent’
Paris will build seven new skyscrapers in its business
district as part of an aggressive campaign to lure financial services companies
from London after the UK leaves the EU.
As much as 375,000 sq m of office space, around 50 football
pitches, will be built by 2021 as part of the city’s wider efforts to
“accommodate the new talent” coming to the city.
Marie-Célie Guillaume, chief executive of Defacto La
Défense, the body responsible for managing the financial hub in western Paris,
said that they wanted to send a “powerful message to businesses that are
uncertain about their future in London”.
Paris is vying with Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Dublin to
attract banks, insurers, start-ups and other companies worried about what will
happen when Britain leaves the political bloc. Paris has been one of the most
aggressive in its efforts.
Immediately after the June 23 referendum, President François
Hollande’s socialist government changed the tax rules for expatriates in Paris
to make it more generous, and put together a high-level team to lobby
international companies. Related article Emmanuel Macron woos expats in London
with vision of better France Staunchly pro-Europe candidate meets Theresa May
and warns on single market access
On a visit to London on Tuesday, Emmanuel Macron, the
independent French presidential candidate and frontrunner to win the election
in May, said he wants British “banks, talents, researchers, academics” to move
to France after Brexit.
Senior bankers in the UK and France have expressed
scepticism that Paris could become the new financial hub of Europe, citing
inflexibility of the French labour code, the language barrier and high taxes.
They say, however, that some operations in London that rely on EU “passporting”
rights to operate across the bloc could move to the continent.
In January, HSBC became the first big bank to confirm plans
to move jobs out of London after the Brexit vote, saying it aims to relocate
1,000 roles in its London-based investment bank to Paris.
UBS said about the same number of its London employees could
be affected by Brexit, while Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase,
said that more than 4,000 of his bank’s 16,000 UK staff could be displaced.
Neither has yet said where they might move, however.
In September, French financial regulators said they were
simplifying the process of registering new financial companies in Paris, in
part by allowing documents to be filed in English. They said this came “in the
context of the Brexit vote”.
Paris’s La Défense business district late last year unveiled
an advertising campaign aimed at capitalising on the uncertainty created by the
Brexit vote, with the slogan: “Tired of the fog? Try the frogs!”