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Schaeuble calls for 'strong' City post Brexit

Wolfgang Schaeuble Image copyright Reuters

Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said it is in the EU's interest to have a strong financial centre in London.

Speaking ahead of Friday's G20 meeting, Mr Schaeuble said he would want to negotiate a Brexit deal in which the City of London remains a global financial force.

He said it was not feasible to move all of the City's operations abroad.

To do so would involve a huge upheaval, Mr Schaeuble pointed out.

In a keynote address to the IIF Conference in Frankfurt, he said: "I am convinced that for Europe as a whole - and I'm not sure this will be very beloved in Paris - it's in our own interests to have strong financial centre in London."

Although he did promote Frankfurt as an alternative EU base for international banks in the wake of Brexit, Mr Schaeuble said he would want to negotiate a deal in which the City of London kept a key role.

Image copyright PA

However, he cautioned, it had not been easy to "brainstorm" with his British counterparts.

Mr Schaeuble's comments, made in conversation with UBS chair Axel Weber, come after Mr Weber confirmed that his bank would not wait for the outcome of Brexit negotiations to move up to 1,500 staff from London to an EU base.

Regulation burden

The finance minister also declared his support for strong international banking regulations.

In a thinly disguised broadside at the new US administration, which has signalled it intends to roll back Wall Street regulation, Mr Schaeuble said: "I'm fully aware that many of you in the room are not fans of regulation".

After some nervous laughter, he added that the regulation big banks have had to bear is "far less" than the burden that taxpayers have had to shoulder due to lax regulation.

Mr Schaeuble met his US counterpart, Steve Mnuchin on Thursday. Mr Schaeuble described their discussion as "friendly and constructive".

On Friday, he will hold discussions with leading finance ministers in Baden Baden at the first G20 meeting of 2017.

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