Sacré bleu! Paris lags in bid to lure City financiers as Frankfurt leads the way

A Parisian charm offensive, designed to lure financial businesses to France in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, appears to have floundered according to commercial property data.

The figures, compiled by property giant JLL, show a dip in leasing activity by finance firms in Paris last year compared to 2016.

Banks and other institutions signed leasing agreements for 127,000 square metres of space during 2017 in the French capital, down from the 188,000 square metres secured a year earlier.

The amount of leasing activity in Paris remained significantly below London, which retained its top spot in Europe for the third year running.

French officials have sought to lure business to Paris since the EU referendum in 2016, and especially since the presidential election of former-banker Emmanuel Macron last year. One FTSE 100 boss described Macron’s direct pitches to firms as “impressive”, yet admitted doubts remain over attitudes to business and finance across the Channel.

One year ago a French delegation swept into The Shard, hosting a glitzy event designed to convince London’s business community of the merits of Paris.

However, the JLL data shows that leasing activity in London has remained strong, although the total has fallen significantly from the unusually strong peak of 254,000 hit in 2015.

Meanwhile, Frankfurt has seen a clear “positive growth trajectory” over the past two years, said Tom Carroll, JLL’s head of corporate research in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The German financial capital saw 164,000 square metres taken up by banks during 2017 – more than double the 2015 figure.

Lobby groups for both Paris and Frankfurt insist they do not think London will lose its current dominant position.

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