January 27, 2013 9:44 am

‘French must stop City bashing’

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Movie set©Getty

Even French film companies have deserted Paris

Flamboyant French financier Edouard Carmignac , whose Paris-based fund house runs €54bn for predominantly retail and wealthy investors, has thrown down the gauntlet to his country’s government to improve regulations and operating conditions for investors.

“I want the French government to put a stop to City bashing,” said Mr Carmignac, in answer to a question from FTfm at a quarterly briefing in the French capital for 1,000 clients, mainly independent financial advisers.

“They must stop all this bitching and griping about how inappropriate it is for London to be the transaction centre for all European stocks, when they are not even part of Europe,” he said.

“How is it our own currency is handled from elsewhere? If I was in the French government I would think about this at night.”

Parisian banks and investment houses need to attract and keep top financial talent in their city to give it a more international flavour, he said. “French nationals represent by far the largest contingent in our banks’ headcounts.”

Even world-renowned French film companies have deserted Paris for Los Angeles due to the “crippling handicap of a one-size-fits-all tax regime”, which is a burden to the country’s business sector, he said.

City planners, said Mr Carmignac, are “hell-bent” on making Paris worse than London. “Our mayor wants to gentrify Paris and make it a city for the glitterati, but this will not make us a financial centre.”

While fund subsidiaries of large French banks have struggled since the crisis to find their direction, Mr Carmignac, who has recently hosted private concerts with the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart for big clients, has boosted managed assets by €40bn since 2007. His company has strong ambitions for UK expansion.

While many groups are working together with the AFG, the French funds industry body, to promote Paris as an international investment hub, they face a challenging business and regulatory environment.

“The problem for Paris is the lack of a pension funds industry in France,” said Pierre Gil, chief executive for the London operation of Lyxor Asset Management.

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