Frankfurt hopes to become ‘little London’ after Brexit
FRANKFURT - ReutersFrankfurt could become a miniature version of London after Brexit, a city official has predicted, after a study said tens of thousands of jobs would be created, bolstering Germany’s banking capital.
The research, commissioned by the city’s chief promoter, is the first comprehensive tally on possible job creation in Frankfurt, as London, its dominant British rival, prepares for life outside the EU.
The analysis predicts there will 10,000 bankers and finance professionals in Frankfurt within four years and that their arrival could create more than 41,000 further jobs, from estate agents to taxi drivers and building workers.
“It’s not the City of London but perhaps it can become a little London,” said Oliver Schwebel, chief executive of Frankfurt Economic Development, the state agency that promotes the city known for skyscrapers that house Deutsche Bank and others.
Britain’s departure from the EU has prompted banks and investors in London to examine other cities to keep a foothold in the bloc, allowing them to sell across the continent without additional costs or trade hurdles after Brexit.
Frankfurt and Dublin have emerged as the most popular centers and the Germany city’s international schools have seen a deluge of calls as bankers anticipate a move.
Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and JPMorgan say Frankfurt will be their EU trading base after Brexit.
Ambition to grow
But some remain skeptical of the German city, whose culinary attractions include local ciders and sausages, but where night life is subdued and cafes remain largely empty during the working week. A common local joke is that the best thing about the city is its airport, which makes it easy to leave.
The study, commissioned by city promoter Frankfurt Main Finance, comes as Frankfurt attempts to discard its small-town image. It is also an attempt to persuade skeptical locals of the economic benefits in welcoming London bankers.
Many residents are worried about being squeezed out of an already expensive property market in a city some have dubbed “Bankfurt.”
At a press conference to outline the findings, Schwebel was forced to defend the city’s record on providing affordable accommodation to locals.
The city’s population has jumped by more than 10 percent since 2010, while a property boom across Germany has seen house prices and rents in cities such as Frankfurt rise sharply.
Although it remains small by international standards, with roughly 730,000 inhabitants, the supply of property is tight partly because the city wants to keep its large green belt of forests and parks.
Schwebel faced a series of critical questions from German journalists about whether attracting such high earners from London was desirable in what turned into an, at times, noisy debate. “They (local residents) won’t be pushed out,” he said.
Lutz Johanning, the author of the study, said Frankfurt was more likely, in any event, to attract risk and regulatory experts rather than investment bankers. The city is already home to the European Central Bank, which monitors lenders.