It’s been done in a very tongue-in-cheek manner, with jokes about French frogs and British fog, but there is no denying the intention behind the move – with Paris launching an advertising campaign aimed at poaching businesses from London on the back of the Brexit vote.
Billboards have been set up showing a green frog wearing a tie with the colours of the French flag, with the slogan reading: “Tired of the fog? Try the Frogs! Choose Paris La Defense”. The billboards have been set up at Heathrow Airport in London, as well as at the Eurostar train station.
According to a Reuters
report, the move has been prompted by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union on June 23 which has led to the UK’s deepest financial turmoil since the Second World War, including the largest one-day fall of sterling against the dollar.
Bankers and insurers have warned about the potential for London to lose its financial status as the biggest hub outside New York. There are also concerns that London could be drained of talent.
Currently, London accounts for 41% of global foreign exchange turnover – that’s more than double New York. Its nearest competitors in Europe are Paris and Switzerland, with just 3% of global foreign turnover each. In addition, around 85% of Europe-based hedge funds are based in London. Now France is making its move.
“As regrettable as Britain’s exit from the European Union may be, we have to be pragmatic and promote our own assets,” said Patrick Devedjian, head of the elected council representing the Hauts-de-Seine district where La Defense is located, in a statement reported on by Reuters
Speaking on Saturday, French President Francois Hollande said that Britain's decision should not jeopardize the bloc’s principle of free movement.
“They have decided to leave,” he said in a conference. “I think the worst attitude would be to contest their choice or call into question the very foundations of the European Union.”
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