Fog or frogs: Paris tries to woo London’s financial sector shaken by Brexit vote


Finance workers in the City of London are being encouraged to choose between national stereotypes as Paris' business district – known as La Défense – unveiled an advertising campaign Monday aimed at poaching business and talent from the U.K.'s financial hub.

Billboard adverts featuring a green frog wearing a tie bearing the red, white and blue colors of the French flag are on display at London's Heathrow Airport and Eurostar train station, as well as in the City of London itself. They are emblazoned with the slogan, "Tired of the fog? Try the frogs! Choose Paris La Défense."

Following the U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union, a number of cities have been vying for the City of London's status as a global financial hub. Alongside Paris, other competitors include Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

An advert encouraging London's financial sector to relocate to Paris.
Defacto, La Défense

The French government has seen opportunity in Brexit, with Prime Minister Manuel Valls saying in July soon after the referendum that: "We want to build the financial capital of the future."

La Défense presents itself as having the business credentials to be a viable alternative to London. On its website, the area has stated that it hosts 500 companies, 40 percent of which are foreign. According to La Défense, 160,000 employees work in the area. The city of Paris itself is home to the highest number of Fortune 500 companies of any city in Europe.

Financial names including Allianz, EY and Société Générale have bases in La Défense, as well as global consumer brands including Carrefour, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble.

According to La Défense's website, Paris' business hub could offer workers a better quality of life. Rent prices are a key point of comparison, with La Défense citing CBRE data which reveals its own at just over one third of central London's rates.

"Though we regret the U.K.'s departure from the EU, we must be pragmatic and make use of our country's strengths … Paris La Défense is a wonderful showcase of our country's attractions and has all the necessary attributes to draw foreign firms and investors," said Patrick Devedjian, president of the Hauts-de-Seine region's council in which La Défense is located, said in a statement.

CNBC contacted TheCityUK, a membership body representing U.K.-based financial services, who have declined to comment.

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