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Brexit: Nearly 20 banks have committed to Frankfurt since vote to leave EU, German officials say


Nearly 20 banks have committed to launching new European Union hubs in Frankfurt since the Brexit vote, according to German officials.

The economy minister for the state of Hesse, where Frankfurt is situated, said the city was confident it would attract more, with another 60 firms yet to decide on additional EU headquarters.

"We've got 18 entities… that have committed," Tarek Al-Wazir said during his most recent trip to London.​

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"There will be other entities who are in the decision process now, so we're in contact with some of them – of course, we're not able to say who they are, but at the end if you compare everything that happened since the Brexit referendum and if you compare the real decisions made, I think we are number one on the continent and I'm sure this will continue."

Hubertus Vath, managing director of city lobby group Frankfurt Main Finance – who was accompanying the minister on his trip – said that while big banks like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have already made their location decisions, there were a swathe of firms yet to launch Brexit contingency plans.

"We did some research in the beginning showing that 100 institutions will have to make up their minds," he said. "We know as of today that just about 40 have made their decisions public and there are a few who are just about to make their decisions… So there is still 60 up for grabs, however we're talking significantly smaller entities."

Liam Fox says he'll refuse to support any extension of Brexit transition period

Those smaller entities would include prime brokerages and corporate treasury centres (CPCs), which serve as the in-house banks of multinational corporations, providing treasury services for its group companies.

While the remaining firms may not be headline grabbing, Mr Al-Wazir said there was still a healthy rivalry at play.

"The competition is still there and maybe the competition is even increasing, but at the end the outcome is good for us."

The minister admitted he was "a little bit disappointed" that Paris was chosen as the new location of the London-based European Banking Authority, but said any competitive edge it might give to Paris was limited.

"The ECB (European Central Bank) is far more relevant," he said.

Brexit talks: Top issues facing UK on leaving EU

Brexit talks: Top issues facing UK on leaving EU

  • 1/7 Customs union

    A key point in the negotiations remains Britain's access to, or withdrawal from, the EU customs union. Since the referendum there has been hot debate over the meaning of Brexit: would it entail a full withdrawal from the existing agreement, known as hard Brexit, or the soft version in which we would remain part of a common customs area for most goods, as Turkey does? No 10 has so far insisted that “Brexit means Brexit” and that Britain will be leaving the customs union, but may be inclined to change its position once the potential risks to the UK’s economic outlook become clearer.


  • 2/7 Northern Ireland-Irish border

    Though progress was made last year, there has still been no solid agreement on whether there should be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. To ensure borderless travel on the island, the countries must be in regulatory alignment and therefore adhere to the same rules as the customs union. In December, the Conservative Party’s coalition partners, the DUP, refused a draft agreement that would place the UK/EU border in the Irish Sea due to its potential to undermine the union. May has promised that would not be the case and has suggested that a “specific solution” would need to be found.


  • 3/7 Transition period

    Despite protests from a small number of Conservative MPs, the Government and the EU are largely in agreement that a transitional period is needed after Brexit. The talks, however, have reached an impasse. Though May has agreed that the UK will continue to contribute to the EU budget until 2021, the PM wants to be able to select which laws made during this time the UK will have to adhere to. Chief negotiator Michel Barnier (seen here with EU Minister David Davis) has said the UK must adopt all of the laws passed during the transition, without any input from British ministers or MEPs.


  • 4/7 Rights of EU citizens living the UK

    The Prime Minister has promised EU citizens already living in the UK the right to live and work here after Brexit, but the rights of those who arrive after Brexit day remains unclear. May insists that those who arrive during the transition period should not be allowed to stay, whereas the EU believe the cut-off point should be later.


  • 5/7 Future trade agreement (with the EU)

    Despite this being a key issue in negotiations, the Government has yet to lay out exactly what it wants from a trade deal with the EU. Infighting within the Cabinet has prevented a solid position from being reached, with some MPs content that "no deal is better than a bad deal" while others rally behind single market access. The EU has already confirmed that access to the single market would be impossible without the UK remaining in the customs union.

    Getty Images

  • 6/7 Future trade agreements (internationally)

    The Government has already begun trying to woo foreign leaders into prospective trade agreements, with various high profile state visits to China, India and Canada for May, and the now infamous invitation to US President Donald Trump to visit London. However the UK cannot make trade agreements with another country while it is still a member of the EU, and the potential loss of trade with the world's major powers is a source of anxiety for the PM. The EU has said the UK cannot secure trade deals during the transition period.


  • 7/7 Financial services

    Banks in the UK will be hit hard regardless of the Brexit outcome. The EU has refused to give British banks passporting rights to trade within the EU, dashing hopes of a special City deal. However according to new reports Germany has suggested allowing trade on the condition that the UK continues paying into the EU budget even after the transition period.


Mr Al-Wazir – whose London visit was his fifth since the Brexit vote – said financial firms would also be interested in new local labour reforms.

"I always said that if German labour law was that bad, Germany wouldn't have reached the position that it has reached," he added. "But you know, especially concerning banks and financial institutions, the federal level is now on its way to changing the labour law."

The minister pointed to a recent coalition agreement which will make it easier to fire and replace high-earning bankers – a boon for those who previously bemoaned stringent legislation that made it hard to sack senior staff.

He said the next step was to have more firms make the trip to Frankfurt themselves.

"We have many people visiting us, because at the end if you're opening something, it won't help you if we are always here (in London), you have to see it yourself.

"So I think our main work is to welcome people and to show them around, get them to know the right people."

Additional reporting by PA

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