Luxembourg welcomes 60 finance firms because of Brexit

Buildings in the Kirchberg quarter are seen behind people standing in roman ruins in the city of Luxembourg, Luxembourg. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 January 2020

Luxembourg welcomes 60 finance firms because of Brexit

  • Landlocked low-tax Luxembourg, a Grand Duchy in the heart of Europe, has a reputation for financial services
  • According to accountants KPMG, Luxembourg has welcomed 65 firms owing to Brexit, ahead of Ireland on 64

LUXEMBOURG: More than 60 financial firms have moved some operations to Luxembourg to insulate themselves from the effects of Brexit, a industry group said Wednesday.
As EU lawmakers voted in Brussels to confirm Britain’s departure from the bloc, public-private agency Luxembourg for Finance released its figures.
According to the group, 60 firms “have publicly announced the relocation of activities to Luxembourg due to Brexit,” and at least ten more will do so.
“Since the Brexit referendum in 2016, Luxembourg has seen a spike in interest from firms planning for their future EU and cross-border activities,” it said.
“A further Brexit outcome has been that Luxembourg law is increasingly being chosen by international institutions active in financial markets.”
The City of London is by all measures the biggest financial center in Europe, and is likely to remain powerful after the United Kingdom leaves the EU.
But the City’s ability to freely provide financial services within the remaining member states will depend on a future cross-Channel trade deal.
This will be negotiated during an 11-month transition period after Brexit, and some firms are already looking to move some or all of their business.
Landlocked low-tax Luxembourg, a Grand Duchy in the heart of Europe, has a reputation for financial services — and discreet bankers.
According to accountants KPMG, Luxembourg has welcomed 65 firms owing to Brexit, ahead of Ireland on 64 and the Netherlands and France on 30 each.
These companies include banks and their departments, insurers and stock brokers shifting operations from the City toward continental locations.
Luxembourg for Finance CEO Nicolas Mackel said the duchy would be “an EU hub for firms considering their post-Brexit plans.”


OPEC, allied nations extend nearly 10M barrel cut by a month

Updated 19 min 23 sec ago

OPEC, allied nations extend nearly 10M barrel cut by a month

  • The meeting, originally scheduled for next week, was brought forward to Saturday

VIENNA: OPEC and allied nations agreed on Saturday to extend a production cut of nearly 10 million barrels of oil a day through the end of July, hoping to boost energy prices hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ministers of the group and outside nations like Russia met via video conference to adopt the measure, aimed at cutting out the excess production depressing prices as global aviation remains largely grounded due to the pandemic. It represents some 10% of the world's overall supply.
However, danger still lurks for the market. Algerian Oil Minister Mohamed Arkab, the current OPEC president, warned attendees that the global oil inventory would soar to 1.5 billion barrels by the mid-point of this year.
“Despite the progress to date, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels,” Arkab said. “The challenges we face remain daunting.”
That was a message echoed by Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Abdul Aziz bin Salman, who acknowledged “we all have made sacrifices to make it where we are today.” He said he remained shocked by the day in April when U.S. oil futures plunged below zero.
“There are encouraging signs we are over the worst,” he said.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak similarly called April “the worst month in history” for the global oil market.
The decision came in a unanimous vote, Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei of the United Arab Emirates wrote on Twitter. He called it “a courageous decision and a collective effort deserving praise from all participating producing countries.”
OPEC has 13 member states, including Saudi Arabia. The additional countries part of the plus-accord have been led by Russia, with Mexico under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador playing a considerable role at the last minute in the initial agreement.
Crude oil prices have been gaining in recent days, in part on hopes OPEC would continue the cut. International benchmark Brent crude traded Saturday at over $42 a barrel. Brent had crashed below $20 a barrel in April.
The oil market was already oversupplied when Russia and OPEC failed to agree on output cuts in early March. Analysts say Russia refused to back even a moderate cut because it would have only served to help US energy companies that were pumping at full capacity. Stalling would hurt American shale-oil producers and protect market share.
Prices collapsed as the coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness it causes largely halted global travel. That also hurt US shale production, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump. But Trump welcomed the earlier deal, as US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette did on Saturday with the extension.
“I applaud OPEC-plus for reaching an important agreement today which comes at a pivotal time as oil demand continues to recover and economies reopen around the world,” Brouillette wrote on Twitter.
Under a deal reached in April, OPEC and allied countries were to cut nearly 10 million barrels per day until July, then 8 million barrels per day through the end of the year, and 6 million a day for 16 months beginning in 2021.
However, some countries produced beyond their quotas set by the deal. One of them was Iraq, which remains decimated after the yearslong war against the Islamic State group.
On Saturday, Iraq Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said in statement that Baghdad had “renewed its full commitment” to the OPEC+ deal.
“Despite the economic and financial circumstances that Iraq is facing, the country remains committed to the agreement," Jihad said.
Analysts had expected OPEC and the other nations to extend the cuts of 10 million barrels per day by one more month, but not longer, since the level of demand is still fluctuating.
“If the demand is great, countries like Russia will want to produce more oil, so they probably won’t want to get locked into a longer-term deal that may not help them,” said Jacques Rousseau, managing director at Clearview Energy Partners.