We're not work-shy: France renews Brexit business push

By Maya Nikolaeva
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FILE PHOTO: The Eiffel Tower is seen at sunset in Paris

The Eiffel Tower is seen at sunset in Paris, France, November 9, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

By Maya Nikolaeva

PARIS (Reuters) - France sets out to dispel a national stereotype in its latest advertising push to lure financial companies from Britain, with the slogan: "You think we don't work much? We just like to be effective."

Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin and other European centres are keen to persuade London-based banks to shift some of their business abroad in order to continue to be able to offer services throughout the EU after Britain leaves the bloc.

The French capital started an advertising campaign in London last summer with the catch phrase "Tired of fog? Try the frogs!"

Since then, only HSBC, which already has a subsidiary in Paris, has said it will move significant business to France. It plans to relocate staff responsible for generating around a fifth of its UK-based trading revenue to Paris.

French officials have acknowledged France's strict labour laws can put off businesses, while bankers say high employers' payroll charges and a frequently changing tax system put Paris at a disadvantage.

The new advertising campaign, launched in London this week by the Ile-de-France region that includes Paris, seeks to dispel some of these concerns.

"You think we live in a fiscal frenzy? We are just tax-imaginative in the right way," it says.

A person involved in coordinating the Paris campaign acknowledged that another deterrent for the British firms is uncertainty over the outcome of the French presidential election in April and May.

"On the one hand, they are eager to make a choice and have a maximum of time to organise things...but doing it before French elections is not very logical given differences in the candidates' programmes," this person said.

Investors are nervous about a possible win for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who calls for a referendum on France's EU membership and wants to take the country out of the euro. Polls suggest, however, that she will lose in the second round to independent centrist Emmanuel Macron.

(Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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