"London: Gateway to the European Market"
－By CEO of Think London, 2008
Thank you very much for that kind and very long introduction. Good afternoon everyone. As you know, I'm Michael Charlton of the Chief Executive of Think London and I am delighted to be speaking to you here this afternoon at this CCPIT-organised financial services conference.
Hopefully, you would already be familiar with the fact that even the speakers from the Bank of China this morning might have suggested that New York is the world's major financial centre. I am afraid I am going to dispute that and hopefully by the end of my section, you will have a clear understanding that London is the world's No.1international financial centre.
Many of you sitting here today may be concerned about the wisdom of talking about going global in the current economic climate, for we live in very uncertain time. But I am very optimistic and believe that we will get through this financial crisis and that we will be able to manage our way to downturn in the world economy very effectively. The impact on London, as the most global city, was not immune with global pressures and is expected to be small and short-lived, after which we fully expect that the economy will return to grow. I also believe that China will play a pivotal role as we chart our way into the next few months and probably next few years. And over the past 30 years, as you know all too well, China has become steadily more integrated with the world's economy and the process was accelerated by China's admission into the World Trade Organization in 2001. The world has come to depend on China. We have all been hearing in the introduction. In the first half of this year alone, China's growth accounted for 1/3 of total world economic growth.
Today, I am going to talk to you about why, when and how the business could set up, succeed and grow in London-Europe's leading business city. Firstly, I will explain why London is the place to do business, particularly the financial services business. Secondly, I will explain why I believe now is the right time to act. Thirdly, I will explain how Think London can help you if you do financial service business or indeed another business thinking of going global.
We believe that there are five reasons to come to London. And I'd like to start with finance, very appropriate of today's conversation. London is the world's leading international financial centre and welcome business of globalising. Recently, the global Financial Service Index ranked London as the NO.1 financial centre, significantly, I mind that, ahead of New York. London gives you access to international finance.
Its regulatory resilience and expertise is however just part of why London has consistently come out as the top global financial city. This year is the fourth consecutive year of the Index I mentioned earlier on. With that said, I'd like to spend a few moments outlining why the UK financial services sector and London's role in particular is important. Financial and professional services in U.K. account for over 10 percent of UK's GDP, a sector employs over one million people in UK and whatever the investments, all capitals requirements or business, they all have in common the need for expert design on the wide range of issues: connecting with international capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, commercial liquidations, international arbitration, corporate laws and intellectual property issues. And all of these factors are in abundance in London. In this challenging times, it's more important than ever to secure a good professional advice. That's exactly where London's ideals base. We have the advisors, the accountants, the lawyers that have the expertise to assist Chinese companies as they begin the process of globalization.
London is a truly international financial centre. Just consider some of the following facts: London is the world largest foreign exchange market, with a daily turnover of 34 percent of global total. This is around 1.4 trillion dollars each day. London has just under half or 46 percent of the total global foreign equity market. And London is also the world's leading market for international insurance and the third largest pension fund asset under management. Take banking in particular, banking remains a centrical part of London's success of the international financial centre. Out of 331 authorized banks in UK at the end of 2007, 254 were branches of oversees subsidiaries. UK banking industry provides a comprehensive range of international baking services and it claims successful global banks like HSBC and Standard Charter, both of which, you know, have a large footprint in China. I am delighted to see of course so many Chinese banks operating in banking sector. The Bank of China has had a branch in London. Since 1929, they arrived in the hearth of city of London. ICBC, who is sponsoring this conference, was granted the license by the financial authority in 2003 and the Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of Communications and China's Construction Bank also have their representative offices in London. And I am delighted to say that Shenzhen-based China's Merchants bank has yet today announced a second office in London. These Chinese banks recognize London's position as the international financial centre and use London as a springboard for global goal to access other European marketplace.
London is also a centre for international IPOs. There are 700 foreign companies from over 70 different countries around the world listed on the London Stock Exchange, more than any other exchange globally. In 2007 alone, London attracted 84 international IPOs, more than any other European or US exchange. 74 of these companies were from China, listed on both the main exchange and the alternative investment exchange market, the junior market of fast growing business.
I mentioned there were five reasons for investment in London. The first is finance, and I hope you will go away with the impression that London is the world's leading financial centre.