Mythbuster: France trailing European financial markets

Fact or Fake? In this regular column, we look at the ‘truths’ that everyone ‘knows’ about France

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With its stock market firmly stuck in third place behind London and Frankfurt, Paris can seem out of place among leading financial centres – but its system core, its banks, rank higher than you might expect.

S&P Global Market Intelligence listed the world’s biggest banks by assets in 2017 and three Euro­pean banks are in the top 10. With assets of $2.5trillion HSBC is seventh but is based in London and owned by a Hong Kong firm. France’s BNP Paribas is eighth, with assets of $2.36tn, and Crédit Agricole is 10th with $2.12tn.

The next European bank is Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG with assets of $1.7tn, in 16th.

Some banks are judged to be ‘systemic’ and so big and international that if they fail the global economic system will tremble. These top 30 banks must carry larger cash cushions to stave off danger.

BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and Société Générale are listed while Groupe BPCE, regularly pops in and out of the list.

The French banks’ size may be why, when looking at post- Brexit plans, many foreign banks opted to go elsewhere to avoid being dominated, with Frankfurt and Dublin seeing more interest so far than Paris.

Paris Europlace expects 3,500 jobs to be created or transferred to Paris due to Brexit, leading to between 10,000 and 30,000 indirect new jobs.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has a new office in Paris for 1,000 staff with one of the City’s top profile women, Sanaz Zaimi, its director of fixed income, currencies and commodities, as country head.

As Middle Eastern banks opt for Paris for new head offices the European Banking Auth­ority warned banks in London to speed up plans to relocate if they wanted to work in Europe.