Paris steps up pitch to London bankers seeking to move

PARIS (Reuters) - A leading French banker and a top Paris politician cranked up the French capital’s campaign on Tuesday to attract London bankers shocked by the UK vote to leave the European Union, calling for tax incentives as competition with other financial centres heats up.

Businessmen are seen on the esplanade of La Defense, in the financial and business district in La Defense, west of Paris, September 19, 2014. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Files

Big Wall Street banks and some European lenders are considering options for relocating staff now that London is on shaky ground as the region’s pre-eminent financial hub.

SocGen's SOGN.PA chief executive, Frederic Oudea, said Paris could benefit from the vote to leave the EU as financial institutions based in the UK would no longer be able to access European markets the way they used to before.

“I hope that Paris, today a challenger, will be able to take advantage of this opportunity,” Oudea said in an opinion piece published on his LinkedIn account.

“We are awaiting a clear message on banking and tax regulations”.

Meanwhile Gerard Mestrallet, the head of the Paris Europlace lobby group, lost little time making the case for tax incentives to Finance Minister Michel Sapin, securing a meeting with him on Tuesday.

Mestrallet told Les Echos business newspaper that taxes for foreigners in France and French expatriates returning home should be made easier as should a special income tax on financial sector workers imposed because the sector does not pay value added tax.

Sapin had said on Friday that the “red carpet” had been rolled out for London banks and hinted that the tax terms for expats could be made more attractive.

But he also warned that the odd “tax measure here or there” would not change much Paris’s attractiveness as a financial centre. [nL8N19G6I1]

The head of the wider Paris region, Valerie Pecresse, cranked up the French capital’s marketing campaign on Tuesday, saying more action was needed to make Paris visible to businesses.

The former conservative government minister said that regional authorities were prepared to open bilingual schools and that Paris had more offices available than other cities.

“The European capitals have already started their campaigns in London: Luxembourg, Dublin, Frankfurt, Bruxelles, we cannot stand still,” Pecresse said in a interview to RTL radio station.

Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Leigh Thomas, Greg Mahlich