LONDON — The founder and CEO of $US60 billion French private equity fund Ardian says London will not lose its financial crown to Paris after Brexit.
Speaking at the Cass Business School in London on Wednesday, the Financial Times reported Dominique Senequier as saying:
“London has always been the number one financial city in Europe. It may no longer be in Europe [after Brexit] but for me it won’t change the situation. It will still be London, and not only London, but people who are financially minded.
“French people are less financially minded. I’m not afraid to say that because I say it very regularly. We have many other things. We are very good cooks. We have the Mediterranean and we are very good entrepreneurs.”
The comments will come as a blow to Parisian lobbyists who have been aggressively courting British business in a bid to convince them to relocate to the French capital after Brexit.
Prime Minister Theresa May has signalled she is willing to give up passporting rights in EU negotiations, meaning finance firms will no longer be able to sell services across the EU from London.
Many investment banks and other finance companies are now looking to move some or all of their operations out of London as a result. Cities like Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, New York, and Amsterdam are seen as likely locations to move.
Paris lobbyists are regularly travelling to London to woo businesses here and have said they expect to win at least 10,000 jobs. A poster campaign has also been launched and at a press conference earlier this month Valerie Pecresse, president of the Paris region, talked up the cultural issues Senequier mentioned, saying: “If you want to live somewhere, you look at [all facets] of quality of life. Of cooking, of healthcare, of children’s care. In this aspect, I think Paris can rate first in continental Europe.”
Meanwhile, business secretary Greg Clark was in Paris on Thursday to hold talks with French car maker Peugeot. Peugeot owned PSA is in talks with General Motors to sell its Opel brand, known as Vauxhall in the UK. Clark is looking for assurances that a deal will not lead to the closure of Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port and Luton plants, which employ 3,400 people.
The Financial Times reported that Clark said after talks that PSA acknowledged Vauxhall is “underpinned by its committed workforce” and said this was one of its “strengths they would wish to build on,” but made no reference to specific job commitments.