Lithuania has embarked upon an aggressive drive to lure companies out of the UK and into its capital city after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU).
Officials from the Baltic country see Brexit as an opportunity to tempt large multinational corporates, as well as smaller start-ups, to relocate investment and jobs to Vilnius.
City Mayor Remigijus Simasius told Express.co.uk that Britain has now lost some of its competitive advantages from the Brexit result.
A number of large firms, including Barclays, Uber and the Nasdaq, have looked to cut costs by creating so-called shared service centres across the Vilnius in recent years.
Barclays now has employees around 1,200 staff in the city, with teams looking after its HR, cyber security and IT maintenance among other functions.
Official sources confirmed to Express.co.uk they have now put feelers out to more large banks about relocating ‘back office’ functions, including research and analysis, and were getting positive feedback.
Sigitas Mitkus, director of financial markets at Lithuania’s Ministry of Finance, told Express.co.uk the country is “ready to accommodate” companies looking to move.
He said: “All in all we have a very bright picture and we want to use this positive outlook to invite people from outside Lithuania to be established in Lithuania and provide services across Europe.”
Vilnius mayor Remigijus Simasius said the city is an attractive place for companies to open service centres because people are educated, young and speak English very well.
He told Express.co.uk: “We are focusing very much on attracting new businesses, our strategy is very clear for that – being faster than others and more open than others.”
Brexit now provides an opportunity to bring more companies to the city and some firms already looking to relocate, according to the mayor.
He said: “When companies are looking where to invest, to expand development of their projects, and where are their entry markets to the European Union, of course Britain has lost some advantages… If you want to enter European markets, it’s normal that you will enter through a European Union member state and that’s the issue.
“If you want to develop products, to test products, of course that will typically be a European Union member state.”
He added: “We are thinking about how to use part of this potential to those companies who are looking for relocation to European Union cities.
“Of course it’s very difficult to compete with Frankfurt or Paris, but we have certain advantages which are very strong.”
In the bid to become a more dynamic and faster-growing economy, Vilnius is also putting large efforts into attracting financial start-ups and other budding enterprises, from London and across Eastern Europe.
Last week UK-based payments company Revolut signed a memorandum of understanding on expansion in Lithuania with the country’s central bank.
And next month the city is officially opening the Sapiegos Vilnius Tech Park, which will house investors, Venture Capital Funds, start-ups, as well as firms that ‘incubate’ and ‘accelerate’ the growth of ideas and smaller companies.
At the same time, Lithuania has developed so-called fintech sandbox, which allows start-ups to test their services within a regulatory environment.
Barclays is also joining in the efforts, with a scheme to nurture fintech start-ups in the country.
The bank chose Vilnius as the only European city outside Britain to launch its Rise innovation programme, which provides space and resources for new companies to work and develop ideas.
Source: Daily Express
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