“Try the Frogs!” France in postBrexit bid to lure bankers from London to Paris


Billboards showing a green frog wearing a tie sporting the colours of the French flag and the slogan “Tired of the fog? Try the Frogs! Choose Paris La Defense” are being put up at London”s Heathrow Airport and the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras.

Arnaud de Bresson, chief executive of the Paris Europlace financial district, said: “Our estimate is that close to 10,000 people involved in the financial sector could move from London to Paris in the next few years and Paris is getting fully organised for that.”

Mr de Bresson said Brexit was “bad news” for Europe in terms of global financial market competitiveness and said Paris was working hard to make itself more attractive by cutting taxes for foreigners working in finance.

He said he was also in talks with political parties ahead of French presidential elections next year on follow-up reforms to make Paris attractive to bankers.

And he added: “We will continue to push vigorously for new tax and social improvements for companies.”

Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Dublin are also making moves to attract banks and other institutions from London, currently Europe”s biggest financial centre.

Hubertus Vaeth, chief executive of Frankfurt Main Finance, said the aim was not to inflict “as much damage as we can” on the City of London, but to siphon off some of Britain”s “entrepreneurial spirit”.

He said: “We already see small teams, exploratory teams looking into certain aspects. We see options for real estate, and we have very, very clear indications that things will be moved, however, not entire operations.

“We expect them in the second half of next year. The big moves will start in the second half of 2017.”

Mr Vaeth dismissed reports that London”s bankers would find Frankfurt boring after living the high-life un the British capital.

He said: “I am sometimes struck by the fact that Frankfurt is portrayed as something between a cemetery and a backward country. I am getting irritated by that.”

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to open formal Brexit talks with Brussels by the end of March next but banks are already making contingency plans to relocate staff and operations in case access to the EU markets is restricted.

Ronald Kent of the British Bankers” Association said: “We can only plan on the basis of a hard Brexit.”

Mark Boleat, head of policy at the City of London Corporation, said financial firms might need to establish a reasonably sized presence on the continent.

He said: “Applications for licences are being made, property options being looked at, but the big pressing of the button, that is going to come a long way down the line.

“A regulator will want to ensure that the thinking people are there. It”s not good just having a few people in Paris. It will require a separate board, senior staff.”