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People and MarketsCommentP&M Notebook

Parisian appeal reaches down under

An Australian firm joins in as banks flock to France's growing financial hub

3d illustration of Australia and France flags together waving in

When GlobalCapital carried out its survey of heads of debt capital markets towards the end of last year, we asked them which financial centres would benefit most from Brexit. The clear answer, by miles (or should that be kilometres?) was Paris.

The latest vindication of that view has come with National Australia Bank's announcement that it is opening up a new office in Paris, having obtained licenses for a European subsidiary, NAB Europe.

The firm had started scouting for locations about two years ago and seriously checked out four different cities, according to a source, who didn't go into further detail on the other three but said: "You can probably figure them out."

The most obvious alternatives to Paris that spring to mind are Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Dublin. Of these, Amsterdam and Dublin are probably the best known to the Australian backpackers that were once a common sight in European youth hostels, while Frankfurt would be more of a mystery to them, with Munich's Oktoberfest being more of a pull.

But for grown-up bankers, the post-Brexit attractions of Paris are clear. And if anyone is in doubt, Christian Noyer, the former governor of the Bank of France, would be happy to set them straight. The French government made him a special envoy for attracting the financial industry to Paris in 2016, after the decisive UK referendum on its membership of the EU, and he seems to be doing a great job.

Besides the highly accommodating stance taken by the French establishment, those relocating staff to Paris praise its proximity to London and the availability of talent as plus points.

And for a firm like NAB, which has a notable project finance business in Europe, the presence of many infrastructure companies and fund managers like Ardian and Antin Infrastructure Partners is another draw.

The Aussie firm's new European outpost will be run by Nicola Jolley, its head of solution sales for the northern hemisphere, who is moving from London. The bank plans to staff the new office with about 25 people, comprising transplants from London as well as local hires.

Thrown off the Al-scent-ra

Meanwhile, BNY Mellon seems to be having a hard time selling its $43bn credit fund manager Alcentra, as big US firms KKR & Co and PGIM are both said to have dropped out of the bidding.

BNY put the firm up for sale last year after a turbulent time at the asset manager, which has lost several key people in the last few years.

There is plenty of colour on the process in our latest exclusive coverage of the sale process, with Franklin Templeton appearing to be the main horse left in the race.

What struck several members of GC's news desk as most surprising, however, was the fact that the identity of the sell-side adviser on the process seems to have remained under wraps. If anyone would like to fill in the gaps, do not hesitate to contact leveraged finance editor Oscar Laurikka in London or securitization reporter Paola Aurisicchio in New York.

Keep scrolling for all of the week's people and markets headlines from GlobalCapital.

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