Unilateral laws put London at risk.
LONDON"s role as a leading shipping business and finance centre could be put at risk by unilateral financial regulation and taxation, warned Alderman David Wootton, sheriff of the City of London.
Giving a keynote address to the Marine Money London Ship Finance Forum, he said that some banks in London doing shipping business had been hit by the financial crisis but others had ?emerged in good shape?.
He pointed out that the UK is responsible for about 13% of global shipfinance and even bigger shares of marine insurance and ship fixing by brokers.
Financial services had been through a difficult time but this was changing, he said. ?Now we need a period of common sense and stability and an absence of unilateral regulation. Otherwise it will damage competitiveness. The message to government is we need you to think long-term,? he said.
?We cannot take it for granted that people will stay here. If shipping businesses feel that they have to move elsewhere, ancillary business will go with them. We need to ensure that London remains one of the best places in the world to do business in shipping.?
Mr Wooton told Lloyd"s List that although it was unlikely whole banks would leave London, they could move some of their operations elsewhere and that could include shipping finance.
But banks must also recognise they had a responsibility, he said. ?There is still a problem that some banks do not understand the problem about bonuses and politicians have stoked up public anger.?
He stressed that it was not a party political issue but that there is genuine anger across all sections of the public, leading to strong calls for tougher regulation. Mr Wootton added that a further danger was that the Financial Services Authority appeared keen to lead the pack with regard to financial regulation. ?There is a need for it to be more collegiate,? he said.
Regulation could also play a part in whether London can attract shipping companies to conduct initial public offerings. London Stock Exchange Europe manager Elizabeth Parrott said that most interest in shipping IPOs in London was coming from Asia, particularly China.
But Clarksons Investment Services managing director Pratyush Chakravarty said that London was known for its light-touch regulation. ?I am not sure how long that will last, but London could attract shipping IPO business as long as it does.?