Sala: Brexit an opportunity for Milan

New mayor sees advantages for financial sector.

The British referendum result leading to a withdrawal from the European Union could have a silver lining for Milan, according to the city’s new mayor, Beppe Sala, speaking on 24 June on his first public engagement since taking up the post.

“Brexit obviously isn’t good news in itself,” said Sala, “and I don’t think it’s good news for Europe. But I’m pretty sure it could prove an opportunity for Milan.”

Sala was answering media questions during his visit to the Finance Guard barracks in Milan to attend the ceremony for the force’s 242nd anniversary.

“In my view there will be financial institutions and head offices of major groups which will find it difficult to stay in London, and will be looking to relocate in Europe,” Sala explained. “And Milan could be a land of opportunity.

“Now we need to work out what we could do. Obviously we can’t create disadvantages for whoever’s already here, but we could find a formula to encourage relocation that could bring jobs, prestige, economy and a higher profile for our city,” said Sala.

“I have a couple of ideas, and we can work on these over the coming weeks. They won’t make any immediate decisions, but from what I have heard many, particularly financial, institutions already had a Plan B ready, so I think we need to be ready and quick off the mark.”

The City of London employs some 2.2 million financial industry workers in a market which, among other factors, is the home of 251 foreign banks. The BBC reported on Friday afternoon that US bank Morgan Stanley has already begun the process of moving 2,000 London-based investment banking staff to Dublin or Frankfurt.