German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble made a not-so-subtle pitch for Frankfurt as an alternative financial center to London post-Brexit, although he said the U.K. capital would continue to play a crucial role.
Speaking at the Institute of International Finance's G20-themed conference in Frankfurt on March 16, Schäuble was setting out his agenda for the G20 meeting of finance ministers March 17 and 18, over which he presides.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
Photo: Associated Press
"I think you are enjoying the good weather in Frankfurt," he told the audience of assembled bankers. "I have spoken about openness and international cooperation. We find ourselves today in Frankfurt, one of Germany's most open and international cities, with a long banking tradition, a reliable, proven location..."
Amid laughter, the session's host, UBS Group AG Chairman Axel Weber, thanked the minister for his speech, adding: "Thank you also for that plea for Frankfurt. Some in the room are looking to move some operations due to Brexit. It was a veiled hint, but I think everyone got it."
Frankfurt is one of several European cities that will likely gain from financial firms moving business from London after the U.K. voted to leave the EU. Others include Paris, Dublin and Luxembourg.
But Schäuble also emphasized that London will not dry up as a financial center. It is in Europe's interest, even after Brexit, to have a strong financial sector in the British city, he said.
Speaking the day after far-right nationalist Dutch politician Geert Wilders performed more poorly than some expected in Netherlands' general election, Schäuble urged global leaders to reject isolationism.
"If we have learned anything from the lessons of the past, it's that nationalism and protectionism are never the right answer," he said.