New London promotion group set up

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LONDON – A new UK government-industry group has been established to ensure London maintains its place as a world leader in financial services. The new group, the Financial Services Global Competitiveness Group, will be jointly chaired by the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, and the chairman of Citi, Sir Win Bischoff.

The group will report directly to the High Level Group on City Competitiveness, which was set up by the government in 2006 to develop and support a strategy for promoting London as a world-leading financial centre. It will comprise senior representatives from the financial services sector and will meet monthly to analyse global trends affecting the competitiveness of the international financial services industry, such as the impact of the subprime crisis and the rapid growth of new financial centres in emerging markets. The group's analysis will help to inform the government's policy response to these global challenges. It will report back to the High Level Group in Spring 2009.

Speaking about the announcement, Darling said: “The financial services sector provides more than a million jobs in the UK and accounts for over 10% of GDP. It is vital it can respond to the rapidly changing nature of international financial markets, with major shifts in financial flows and players to growing centres of influence and new sources of profit.”

“I have asked Sir Win to lead an assessment of these global trends, and on their impact on financial centres over a 10- to 15-year horizon, to help London and the UK maintain and enhance its leading place in the world's financial markets.”

Sir Win Bischoff said: “I am honoured to have been asked by the Chancellor to lead the work of the Financial Services Global Competitiveness Group with him. The timing is right, as the financial landscape is changing around the world and we must make sure that world-class centres like London participate and benefit from this trend. I intend to report back with a range of issues for consideration on what is needed to maintain and enhance these centres' competitiveness.”

Darling has also announced the creation of a Professional Services Industry group – jointly chaired by Sir Michael Snyder and economic secretary to the Treasury Kitty Ussher – to look at the medium-term challenges in a sector for which the UK is a leading centre, covering legal services, accountancy, management consultancy and other services. As well as a working party to review the efficiency of the UK's capital raising process – jointly chaired by the FSA’s chief executive, Hector Sants, and Ussher. This will examine current market practices concerning equity capital raising by public companies, and report on whether changes are needed to UK company law, market practices or regulatory requirements to make equity capital raising more efficient and orderly.

In addition to these groups, which will consider issues directly related to the UK's competitiveness, Darling intends to announce details of two new standing groups shortly, to focus on live topics related to the UK-based wholesale financial services industry and the insurance sector.

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