LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) - Bank of America (BAC.N) is looking to lease more office space in Paris as the bank prepares to expand its operations in the French capital to cope with the impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
International banks are planning to build up outposts in the EU to ensure they can continue to serve clients if their London operations lose the ability to operate across the bloc once Britain leaves in March 2019.
There is fierce competition between Paris, Frankfurt and other European cities to woo international banks’ City of London operations as they consider where to shift EU-related business.
Bank of America has already announced that Dublin will be the new base for its European Union operations and that it will remain its legal headquarters in the EU.
One of the sources said Bank of America was looking to move some of the investment bank activities, such as bond and equity trading to Paris, however, no final decision has been made.
The bank declined to comment.
If Bank of America selects Paris that would mark a long-coveted victory for the new French government that has stepped up efforts to attract London banks to Paris after the election of Emmanuel Macron as French president.
Macron has vowed to overhaul the labor market and simplify the French tax and pension systems.
The largest global banks, asset managers and insurers in London plan to shift or create about 10,000 new roles overseas in the next few years if the UK is denied access to Europe’s single market, according to a Reuters survey published last week.
Frankfurt is so far the most popular destination for the new roles finance jobs, with Paris a distant second, according to the survey.
HSBC, and French banks, such as Societe Generale and Credit Agricole, are among other banks that are planning to move staff to Paris after Brexit.
But many other large lenders have been deterred by a perception of France as a country of high taxes and strict labor laws, according to executives.
However, the French capital retains advantages over rival cities.
For example, the Paris region is comparable to London in size and boasts a rich cultural offering, major banks, insurers and asset managers and large corporate clients.
Bank of America when announcing that it was selecting Dublin as its EU base in July said that some roles would also move to other EU locations.
Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Additional reporting by Maya Nikolaeva in Paris; Editing by Louise Heavens