The favourite in France's presidential race is fighting to lure London bankers to Paris post-Brexit

LONDON — Emmanuel Macron, the favourite to win France’s presidential election in May, wants to lure some of London’s top financial talent to Paris in the wake of Brexit.

France’s former economy minister spent Tuesday in London, meeting officials including Prime Minister Theresa May, but had a clear message for those disillusioned by Brexit — ‘Come to France.’

After his meeting with May, Macron set his sights on Britain’s financiers, as well as academics, telling reporters outside No. 10 Downing Street: “I will have a series of initiatives to get talented people in research and lots of fields working here to come to France … I want banks, talents, researchers, academics and so on.

“I think that France and the European Union are a very attractive space now so in my programme I will do everything I can to make it attractive and successful.”

Paris is lobbying British-based banks, financial services institutions, and investors hard to persuade them move to the French capital, as Brexit forces many to look elsewhere for a European headquarters.

Since Prime Minister Theresa May delivered her now famous speech signalling that Britain will leave the European Single Market, the chief executives of JP Morgan, HSBC, UBS all said they will likely move jobs out of London. Meanwhile there were also reports of Goldman Sachs preparing to shift staff out of the UK’s capital, and France wants to get into pole position.

Business lobbying group Paris Europlace has launched an aggressive charm offensive to woo London-based banks across the channel, including hosting press conferences in swanky London venues and hosting closed door meetings with the City’s financial elite.

Interestingly, lobbyists are not just talking up Paris’ business environment but also its culture, cooking, healthcare — even alluding to the city’s fame as a great spot for a romantic getaway.

“When was the last time you took your partner off for a weekend in Frankfurt?” Valerie Pecresse, president of the Paris region, told the aforementioned press conference in London a few weeks ago.

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