London's status as a world financial centre in doubt

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LONDON - London could be in danger of losing its status as global financial capital unless urgent action is taken, warned a report published today commissioned by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. The report, 'London: Winning in a Changing World' was compiled by Bob Wigley, chairman of Merrill Lynch Europe during the past six months. It warns that the city is facing a serious threat from international rivals.

The report refers to expensive living costs, the lack of expansion at London Heathrow airport, and the perceived danger from rising levels of knife crime as well as an increasingly inefficient energy supply, as the main factors contributing to London's demise as a business centre.

The report said: "London's status as a must-visit roadshow destination has been damaged by long queues and delays at Heathrow and complaints about congested roads. In 2007 Heathrow was ranked the worst airport in Europe for delayed flights, while the average speed of a car in London during the day was 10mph."

A lack of high-quality mathematics, finance and IT graduates in the UK was also cited as a problem for the city to be able to meet the financial services industry's demands.

In light of the findings of the report Johnson has promised to fight back by focusing on implementing favourable tax regimes, improving infrastructure as well as vowing to lobby the UK Government to make circumstances more favourable for overseas companies and to create a single body tasked with promoting London abroad.

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