Frankfurt and Dublin make bankers feel wanted in battle for Brexit jobs

Morgan Stanley, Citi and JPMorgan have announced that Frankfurt, above, will be their EU trading base after Brexit. (Reuters)
Updated 18 August 2017

Frankfurt and Dublin make bankers feel wanted in battle for Brexit jobs

LONDON/DUBLIN: “I’m here to send you the regards of the Federal Chancellor. I am entitled to tell you we want you in Germany.” This private message from Angela Merkel, delivered by a regional politician to Wall Street bankers last year, is having the desired effect.
Frankfurt, along with Dublin, is emerging on top in the battle to draw highly-paid banking jobs — and the tax revenue that they bring — away from London before Britain’s departure from the European Union in March 2019.
Germany has favored a subtle approach, with Chancellor Merkel saying little if anything in public on what is a sensitive issue at home. Instead she relied on Volker Bouffier, prime minister of the state of Hesse where Frankfurt is located, to take her invitation to New York in November, according to three sources familiar with the discussions.
Irish leaders have been less reticent, but both countries have sent the same welcoming message to US, Japanese and other foreign banks — despite the public unpopularity of bankers that still lingers after the global financial crisis.
While Paris and Amsterdam are set to lure one or two major lenders, Germany and Ireland have so far secured the bulk of commitments from big-name banks.
Even then, the work of lobbyists is not over: they are pushing to host the huge business of clearing deals in euro-denominated securities, now dominated by the British capital.
Banks have been undertaking legal, financial and economic analysis in choosing new bases for their EU business if it can no longer be done from London. But they also need to know the political climate will be favorable.
“Bankers want reassurance that the government wants them,” one senior banking executive told Reuters. “Business does care about political sentiment toward them. There’s a reason: if there are problems you know that government will use its powers to help you.”
The largest global banks in London have indicated that about 9,600 jobs could go to the continent or Ireland in the next two years, though few have yet moved, according to public statements and information from industry sources.
In recent weeks Morgan Stanley, Citi and Bank of America as well as Japan’s Nomura, Mizuho and Sumitomo Mitsui have announced decisions for new EU headquarters, all opting for Frankfurt or Dublin.
These cities’ success follows year-long campaigns, as government agencies and lobby groups staged a charm offensive with the banks unseen since the 2007-09 crisis.
Merkel, who is seeking re-election next month, left city and Hesse officials to do the rounds in New York. That included the one-on-one meetings with senior executives on Wall Street when Bouffier passed on her message.
German taxpayers had to fund a series of bank bailouts during the crisis, and the bad memories remain due to Deutsche Bank. While Germany’s biggest bank did not needed rescuing, it has run up a litigation bill of €15 billion since 2009 due to extravagant market bets and misconduct.
Local officials have had fewer inhibitions than the national politicians. The Frankfurt Main Finance lobby group went on more than 50 trips to foreign banks’ home bases in the past year. “We’ve had indications that two thirds of the major banks’ moves will be to Frankfurt,” lead campaigner Hubertus Vaeth said.
Morgan Stanley, Citi and JPMorgan say Frankfurt will be their EU trading base after Brexit. However, Vaeth said: “The strategy was to be subtle. There was no glee or triumphalism.”
As a medium-sized provincial city, Frankfurt has also been proclaiming its cultural attractions. That involved taking Wall Street firms to the city’s English-language theater and Japanese bankers to see the Eintracht Frankfurt soccer team play.
Ireland has adopted similar sporting tactics. When Dublin hosted an American Football game between Boston College and Georgia Tech last year, government ministers worked the room at a dinner of 500 executives from Boston and Atlanta, including State Street CEO Jay Hooley.
The Irish political welcome has been more evident.
New Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, building on work by his predecessor Enda Kenny, has met several bank bosses and posted a picture on his website of him smiling with Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan.
Politicians posing with bankers had been close to anathema since a collapse of the Irish financial system forced the country to take an international bailout in 2010, bringing austerity policies which hurt voters badly.

Tesla rival Lucid Motors wants to build factory in Saudi Arabia

Updated 20 February 2019

Tesla rival Lucid Motors wants to build factory in Saudi Arabia

  • Lucid Motors eyes production plant in Kingdom after raising more than $1bn from the Public Investment Fund
  • California-based electric-car maker hopes to sell first vehicles for more than $100,000 

LONDON: A US-based electric-vehicle company that raised more than $1 billion from Saudi Arabia wants to build a factory in the Kingdom, and says its mission to build “the best car in the world” is well underway. 

The California-based Lucid Motors is developing its first model, the Air, which it hopes to sell for more than $100,000 when it enters production in less than two years’ time. 

Financial backing from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), announced last year, will allow Lucid to proceed with the development of the all-electric sedan, as well as fund the $240 million cost of building the first phase of its factory in the US.

Peter Rawlinson, chief technology officer at Lucid Motors — and a former engineer at rival Tesla — said the company wants to eventually build a production plant in Saudi Arabia, and sees a “long-term” partnership with the Kingdom.

“I can see a really bright future, with a tangible manufacturing facility or facilities,” Rawlinson told Arab News.

“We’d love to do that … We’re currently in a period where we are investigating all these options. 

“There is a vision that there will be some sort of production facility in the future.”

Rawlinson added that it is “early days” for such a plan, but said he sees many opportunities for electric vehicles in Saudi Arabia — not least, because of the abundant sunshine and potential for solar power.

“We are undertaking the appropriate studies, but I’m really excited about the potential of this. This partnership is huge for us; we can benefit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a significant, meaningful and long-term manner,” he said. 

“One of the great assets of the Kingdom is its endless reserves of sunshine, and how that can be harvested with solar energy. We’re a battery-storage technology company; that’s a way we could contribute. We’re exploring a number of avenues along those lines.”

Lucid is positioning itself in the luxury market, and Rawlinson said its Air model is looking to compete with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The Lucid Air is the company’s first car, but Rawlinson said an initial public offering (IPO) could be on the cards to develop future models.

The engineer brushed off the idea of a competitive threat from Elon Musk’s Tesla, where he once worked as chief engineer for the Model S.

“We don’t see Tesla as a key, direct competitor. We see the German gasoline cars — the petrol engine cars … as our core competitive set,” he said. 

“I’ve spoken to many people … who would gladly buy an electric car but say they’re not going to give up their Mercedes-Benz to buy a Tesla because of the interior. You’ve only got to step inside a Tesla to realize it’s not true luxury.”