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German state woos foreign banks after Brexit vote

[FRANKFURT] A German politician said on Thursday he was trying to persuade foreign banks to make Frankfurt their home after Britain's vote to leave the European Union, and outlined how Europe's biggest economy wants to bolster its financial capital at London's expense.

Thomas Schaefer, finance minister of the state of Hesse which includes Frankfurt, said he had spoken to British banks with an arm in Frankfurt as well as others, and sought to persuade potential movers that local labour law and tax were not overly onerous.

"We are listening very carefully to the questions that the financial sector has after the Brexit vote," Mr Schaefer, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party, told reporters. "We are campaigning for Hesse because the financial centre of Frankfurt has a lot to offer."

Most German politicians have been reluctant to publicly push Frankfurt as an alternative to London. Mr Schaefer's remarks suggest momentum may now be growing behind Frankfurt, less than two months after Britain voted in a referendum to leave the European Union - a process widely referred to as Brexit.

Mr Schaefer did not, however, offer any prospect of special deals to cut tax or any other such concessions. He said the city's infrastructure and the fact that it hosted the European Central Bank were reason enough to move there.

Mr Schaefer said he had held talks with "all kinds of players" but that many had wanted to keep the contact secret. "There is a fear of being considered disloyal in the London community," he said.