January 19, 2020 / 8:23 PM / 3 months ago

JPMorgan says 'oui' to Paris expansion post-Brexit

PARIS (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) is the latest investment bank to significantly expand its Paris hub as part of plans to relocate some services from London after Britain’s exit from the European Union, snapping up new premises in the French capital.

FILE PHOTO: A J.P. Morgan logo is seen in New York City, U.S. January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo

JPMorgan would have said “No” to a Paris move back in 2016, its French executive told Reuters, but government-led labor law and taxation reforms made it review its stance.

The U.S. bank said it plans to buy a building in central Paris from France’s BNP Paribas to house up to 450 staff in coming years, allowing it to keep operating in the EU once the current unfettered two-way direct access between Britain and the bloc comes to an end in December following a Brexit transition period.

The expansion is expected to make the French capital, where it currently has 260 staff, its second-largest base in Europe behind London, where there are 10,000 staff, JPMorgan said.

It currently has 600 staff in Luxembourg and 450 in Frankfurt.

The bank will initially transfer sales teams, followed by trading staff depending on the timing of Britain’s full withdrawal from the European Union, Kyril Courboin, JPMorgan’s CEO of France, told Reuters.

“Paris is going to be the second pole for our market activities in Europe,” he said. “London will still be number one because we are only transferring euro activities.”

He declined to disclose the purchase price of the new building, which is close to JPMorgan’s existing Paris offices on the prestigious Place Vendome.

The move is part of a wider trend of banks shifting selected activities to euro-zone cities ahead of Brexit, without calling into question London’s dominance as Europe’s premier financial center.

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Large international banks and investors could relocate around 4,000 jobs to Paris, the French financial lobby Paris Europlace said, citing data from “Choose Paris Region”, which helps international companies set up business in Paris.

“In addition to the new announcements made by American banks...Asian investors, from HongKong and Singapore...confirm their wish to strengthen their activities in Europe, in particular in Paris,” Arnaud de Bresson, chief executive of Paris Europlace, told Reuters.

Wells Fargo, which currently has three job openings in Paris, said in October it had chosen the city as its European hub for post-Brexit trading activities. Bank of America (BAC.N) also plans to move more than 400 jobs into a new office in central Paris.

An Elysee official said JPMorgan was one of several large banks who have been considering a move to Paris, without naming others, leaving open the possibility that more jobs will be relocated to the “city of lights”.

The building purchase by JPMorgan was announced on Sunday as part of the “Choose France” drive, an annual investment event created by President Emmanuel Macron to draw business leaders to France en route to the World Economic Forum in Davos each January.

Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic and Maya Nikolaeva, writing by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Kirsten Donovan

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