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Frankfurt has opened its doors to Britain's businesses following Brexit, and some firms look ready to take up the offer

Hayley Kirton
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Frankfurt at night
With passporting rights in question, firms might be hearing to Frankfurt as an alternative (Source: Getty)

Germany's financial sector today revealed it has opened its doors to British bankers displaced by Brexit, and some businesses looked ready to take up the offer.

The comments come as a number of key government figures are suggesting they might opt for a so-called hard Brexit, which could see London's financial centre left without access to the Single Market.

Now, Hubertus Vaeth, chief executive of Frankfurt Main Finance, an organisation set up to promote Frankfurt as a financial centre, has told Reuters he has already witnessed businesses sizing up the German city.

"We already see small teams, explorative teams looking into certain aspects," Vaeth said, adding he would not be surprised to see some big moves in the latter half of 2017.

He continued: "We see options for real estate, and we have very, very clear indications that things will be moved, however, not entire operations."

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Mark Boleat, head of policy at the City of London Corporation, also noted he had clocked firms applying for licences and lining up property options. He later described the work to City A.M. as "contingency planning", adding that when firms put plans into action would "depend on the nature of their business".

He added businesses were wary they had "got to be prepared for every single eventuality" of the Brexit negotiations.

Back in July, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls reached out to London's worried financial services staff, pledging to do more to make Paris a competitive financial capital.

"We want to build the financial capital of the future," Valls said. "In a word, now is the time to come to France."

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However, various financial figures have recently warned the EU would be shooting itself in the foot by trying to punish London in the Brexit negotiations, pointing out that financial giants may well choose to move to the likes of New York or Hong Kong rather than Frankfurt or Paris.

And, while launching a report on passporting rights today, Open Europe's senior policy analyst Vincenzo Scarpetta noted: "It is not obvious that business moving out of the UK would relocate to another European hub: New York, Singapore or Hong Kong would be just as well, if not better, placed to reap the benefits – meaning Europe as a whole could end up worse off."

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she intends to invoke Article 50 before the end of next March, triggering a two-year ticking clock on the UK's departure from the EU.

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Many in the UK's financial services sector would like to see a transition period secured, which would extend crucial financial rights long enough for firms to get their house in order. There are concerns that, if such a transition period was not locked down, businesses will have no option than to move operations overseas before they are even completely sure of what the final deal is, to make sure they can continue to service clients.

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