Poland wants to steal the City of London's place as Europe's financial centre

Poland is the latest European nation attempting to sell itself as an attractive destination for businesses looking to shift operations away from the United Kingdom in the wake of the country’s decision to leave the European Union, according to a report from the Financial Times.

The FT reports that, Poland’s deputy prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki — a former banker with Santander, and one time chairman of Poland’s third largest bank Bank Zachodni WBK — has scheduled meetings with senior bankers from RBS, Barclays, UBS, Credit Suisse, Citibank, and BNP Paribas during a trip to the UK at the end of the week.

He is also reportedly meeting executives from investment funds, including Blackrock, Pimco, and Schroders.

Morawiecki will travel to the UK on Thursday with the aim of pitching Poland’s capital, Warsaw, as an attractive place for banks worried about the future of the City of London in the aftermath of Brexit, to move staff.

“Many of them have approached us. There is clearly increased interest in leaving London,” Morawiecki said to the FT.

He also reportedly said that Poland has already begun talks with numerous financial institutions about moving middle-office and back-office staff out of London to Warsaw.

Warsaw joins a growing list of European cities trying to woo financial institutions that currently have their European bases in the UK, as uncertainty over the City’s role following Brexit intensifies. Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital has already sent a clear message that it wants to take business from the City.

“We want to send the message loud and clear: ‘Welcome to Frankfurt. How can we help you?'”Hubertus Vaeth, the managing director of Frankfurt Main Finance said in July, adding that “The welcome banner is hung and Frankfurt’s doors are wide open.”

Paris is also positioning itself to take business away from London, with French prime minister Manuel Valls sending foreign bankers a similar message, declaring “Welcome to France!” in a speech shortly after the Brexit vote. Given the eagerness of the financial hubs of the eurozone’s two biggest economies to take London’s place at the centre of European finance, it is likely to prove difficult for Poland to attract the biggest banks.

Since the Brexit vote, numerous big businesses — including several banks — have come out and said that the decision may force them into changes in their European businesses, with Goldman Sachs notably saying in a regulatory filing released in early August that the Brexit decision could “adversely affect” certain aspects of its operations in the UK and the European Union, and as a result it may have to reconsider how some of these businesses are structured.

Perhaps the most worrying sign for the UK’s banking sector was a leaked Deutsche Bank document obtained by Business Insider’s Ben Moshinsky, which argued that London is likely to lose its financial services passport, and that investment banks that shift operations abroad quickly will benefit from a “first-mover advantage.”

Barclays and Bank of America Merrill Lynch could shift their markets businesses to Dublin, while Goldman Sachs has subsidiaries in Paris and Frankfurt, Germany, that it could use to keep its access to the 27-member single market once the UK officially leaves the European Union, according to the note. JPMorgan could shift resources to Luxembourg, where it has a subsidiary.

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