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Paris fights for businesses fleeing Brexit London

'Hard' Brexit talk pushes pound to 31-year low

Paris is on a charm offensive, trying to win over businesses fleeing London’s Brexit chaos.

The city launched a new initiative on Thursday, setting up a one stop shop for companies that want to relocate from London following the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union.

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It is designed to help foreign businesses with the bureaucracy, provide information and advice, and promote the region.

Many global businesses use London as a gateway to Europe’s vast markets.

Under EU rules, they are allowed to operate across the block as long as they are based in one of the member countries.

If the U.K. leaves Europe’s free trade area, businesses with headquarters in London, including many banks, could lose that right.

The Paris Region Developmental Agency is hoping it could provide a new home to some of them.

paris attracts business

Related: Court ruling throws Brexit process into doubt

“I want France to appear as the natural choice for all those enterprises which are looking for a gateway into Europe,” said Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister.

La Defense, the Parisian finance district, launched its own campaign last month with a slogan “Tired of the fog? Try the Frogs!’ It is hoping to convince banks to shift some of their operations there following Brexit.

Related: 7 cities that could steal business from London

One obvious choice could be the banks’ clearing services. Much of the global trade in euros currently takes place in London, despite the U.K. opting out of the currency used by 19 members of the EU.

The city handles transactions worth trillions of euros — currencies, shares, bonds and other financial contracts. These might have to move elsewhere within Europe after Brexit.

“I have been saying it for months, the Brexit is a deeply regrettable decision but it is an historical one which is transforming the face of Europe and in front of which we cannot be idle nor naive,” said Valerie Pecresse, president of the regional council of Ile de France, the Paris region.

Paris will face stiff competition from other European cities that are also hoping to steal business from London. Frankfurt, where the European Central Bank is based, is hoping to attract the banks. Dublin, home to the European headquarters of Google (GOOGL, Tech30) and Facebook (FB, Tech30), eyes London’s tech sector.

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