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France’s Noyer Says BlackRock Likely to Move London Jobs to Paris

Christian Noyer, the honorary governor of the Bank of France, says he expects to see BlackRock jobs transferred to Paris after meeting with CEO Larry Fink.

  • Joe McGrath

Christian Noyer, the former Bank of France governor now tasked with bringing jobs to the country post-Brexit, expects BlackRock to move some of its London-based workforce to Paris following meetings with Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink and his team.

Noyer said in an interview that his expectations are based on two, hour-long meetings with the boss of the world’s largest asset manager. The honorary Bank of France governor said he’d be “very surprised” if Paris didn’t land some of the jobs that BlackRock plans to transfer from London when the U.K. leaves the European Union in 2019.

With Britain just one month into its two-year process exiting the European trading bloc, banks and asset managers with offices in London are considering moving staff to rival financial centers within the E.U. Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin and Amsterdam are among the cities that may benefit from the U.K.’s looming loss of jobs.

“When Larry Fink takes one hour of his time to meet, it is not because he thinks that I am a nice guy,” Noyer said. “And when he does that twice in two months... well... I would be very surprised if Paris is not in the picture.”

BlackRock said it hasn’t yet committed to any single European city.

The New York-based firm, which had about 13,000 employees globally at the end of last year, manages $5.4 trillion in assets. The firm’s 2014 annual report, the most recent year for which it provided a breakdown of its global workforce, showed that 28 percent were then employed in the EMEA region, or Europe, the Middle East and Africa, including offices in London and Edinburgh.

“Given BlackRock’s experience operating in multiple jurisdictions we remain well placed to meet our clients’ needs and have commenced efforts to lay the groundwork for our longer-term response to the U.K.’s eventual exit from the E.U.,” a BlackRock spokesman in London said in an emailed statement. “As part of these efforts, and in line with our broader strategy to grow our business in Europe, we are considering several options to increase our presence in key markets on the continent.”

While BlackRock “can afford to develop things in several places,” Noyer said he still expects a significant share of the firm’s London jobs will be transferred to France.

The honorary governor of the Bank of France said he’s become frustrated by media reports suggesting that Frankfurt will be the main beneficiary from jobs moving as a result of Brexit, prompting him to overcome his reluctance to discuss specific firms.

“The idea that everyone will go to Frankfurt doesn’t stand up,” said Noyer.

“Seventeen global organizations have asked us to organize visits for them to Paris where they can meet our regulators,” he said. “Do you think the U.S. banks would still be meeting with me if they thought Paris was not an option?”

Paris will emerge as the favored center for jobs in asset management and “banking operations” after the French presidential election, according to Noyer. He said that many firms have delayed announcing their preferred choice because the election is still in process. Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right politician Marine Le Pen have advanced to the second round of voting, scheduled for May 7.

In a sign that France is attracting financial talent due to Brexit, the French Financial Management Association said that 30 asset management companies have applied for registrations in Paris to relocate jobs from the U.K.

“We are now at the point where we have seen all of the major institutions several times, the U.S. banks at least twice in New York, the Japanese banks at least twice in Tokyo and the Swiss banks in Zurich,” Noyer said.