After ‘Brexit’ Vote, Europeans Jockey for London’s Business
Within hours of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, it started.
A Lithuanian lawmaker wrote to the chief executive of HSBC, trying to court the bank. A website promoting Frankfurt, Germany as an attractive location to invest went live. A Berlin startup published an online how-to guide for anyone looking to move to the German capital.
Britons had only just begun to digest the results of their referendum when cities and companies across Europe leapt into action, all of them jockeying to lure businesses, entrepreneurs and investment from London, the region’s economic behemoth.
Much remains up in the air, as the country embarks on a yearslong process to leave the 28-nation bloc. Britain has not even officially filed to leave, and there will be painful negotiations on matters including trade and whether people from European Union nations will have the freedom to work in Britain, as they do now.
Despite the high levels of uncertainty, others in Europe are, in effect, looking to gain from Britain’s pain.
Across the Continent, officials are already vocally trying to entice financial services firms, technology startups and others to forgo the British capital for cities like Paris, Luxembourg, Frankfurt and even the relatively tiny Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. They warn that businesses will suffer if they stay in a Britain that no longer has unfettered access to the EU and its hundreds of millions of potential customers.
“We didn’t want the vote to turn out that way,” said Tarek Al-Wazir, economics minister for the German state of Hesse, which includes Frankfurt. But, he added, “we prepared just in case.”
Several companies — including banks like HSBC and JPMorgan Chase and the telecommunications giant Vodafone — have said they will consider moving at least a few jobs to the Continent.
“A 2 percent loss for London is a 20 percent gain for Frankfurt,” said Hubertus Vaeth, managing director of Frankfurt Main Finance, a coalition of businesses and local government organizations that were behind the campaign.
“伦敦失去2%，法兰克福会收获20%，”法兰克福美因河金融协会(Frankfurt Main Finance)常务董事胡贝图斯·韦思(Hubertus Vaeth)说。该协会由一些企业以及前述游说活动背后的地方政府机构组成。
When it comes to the financial services industry, several cities have rolled out the red carpet to lure London-based companies.
Before the referendum, local and regional government officials held an event in Paris at the offices of Euronext, the stock market operator. Called “Welcome to Europe!” it encouraged financial services companies to consider the French capital as an alternative.
Valérie Pécresse, the president of the region that surrounds Paris, has extolled the city’s virtues, noting the opening of new bilingual schools as well as its quality of life and available office space.
“When Britain goes out, a lot of firms will have to relocate in Europe,” Pécresse said. “There is a competition that is going to take place. It is already taking place between the big metropolises in Europe.”
Along with those large cities, smaller financial centers — in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands — are also getting involved. Even Lithuania, a country not typically noted as a hub for business in Europe, much less high finance, is involved.
On the day the referendum results were announced, Antanas Guoga, a Lithuanian member of the European Parliament, wrote to several financial institutions with large London staffs, suggesting they move some of their European operations to Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, with a population of just over 500,000.
公投结果宣布当天，欧洲议会(European Parliament)立陶宛议员安塔纳斯·古欧加(Antanas Guoga)致信若干在伦敦有大批员工的金融机构，建议它们将一些欧洲分支机构迁移到维尔纽斯。维尔纽斯是立陶宛的首都，人口只有50万多一点。
Guoga, a former professional poker player and chief investment officer for Vilnius, noted in his letter that the British bank Barclays, the Danish lender Danske Bank and the stock market operator Nasdaq all had operations in the city.
“It’s an opportunity now to let everyone know about our success stories,” he said.
Despite the overtures from elsewhere, officials in London still believe they will retain most of the business and finance that is currently based there.
“There will be no mass exit of banks and financial institutions from the Square Mile,” Mark Boleat, policy chairman of the City of London Corp., said in a statement, referring to the British capital’s financial center.
“不会出现银行和金融机构大规模撤离‘方里’的情况，”伦敦金融城政府政策委员会主席包墨凯(Mark Boleat)在一份声明中表示。“方里”(Square Mile)指的是伦敦的金融中心。
“The City of London has thrived as a financial and trading center for more than 1,000 years,” he said, “and will continue to do so.”
The competition, though, extends outside of financial services — Europe’s tech hubs are turning on the charm offensive, as well.
While cities are fiercely competing to steal companies from London, others are hoping to profit by helping companies sort through their options.
Major law firms in the British capital are gearing up for a surge in business: A spokesman for Allen & Overy said that before the results of the referendum, 500 clients registered to take part in a conference call discussing the fallout from the so-called Brexit. After the results, 1,200 more signed up.
伦敦各大律所正开足马力，应对业务的猛增：安理国际律师事务所(Allen & Overy)的发言人表示，公投结果出炉前，有500个客户报名参加一场讨论英国脱欧影响的电话会议。结果出炉后，又有1200个客户报名。
Real estate agents in major cities across the Continent, including Stockholm and Frankfurt, are also reporting increased interest from banks and technology companies casting their eyes away from London.
All of this has been a long time coming. The referendum was officially announced in February, but has been in the cards for more than a year, and those hoping to profit from a Brexit have been planning extensively.