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Poll of International Businesses Reveals Confidence in London is High

Please note: In April 2011 Think London merged with Visit London and Study London to become London & Partners. These archive press releases are here for information only.

In the clearest signal yet that London is beating the recession, nearly two-thirds (61%) of international firms say they are more confident about doing business in the capital compared with 12 months ago, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, revealed today at the MIPIM property conference in Cannes.

Ninety per cent of overseas firms are satisfied with London as a location to do business, and the capital's proximity to markets and qualified staff was revealed as the key reason for businesses locating here.

The figures were released as part of Think London's first FDI (foreign direct investment) Barometer, conducted in association with independent research organisation Ipsos MORI, to evaluate business investment confidence amongst the capital's 20,000 or more overseas-owned companies.

Key findings include:

  • 61% described that they were more confident in the economic prospects for their business in London over the next 12 months than the previous 12 months.
  • 90% of overseas-owned companies are satisfied with London as a location for their business.
  • Taxation and transportation are the key areas where they would like to see change, with nearly three quarters of businesses saying the London Underground upgrade programme will be important to their business.

For the past 20 years, London has been voted by business leaders as the top European city for business and is in a class of its own as a global city. Notable international firms that have set up business in London in the last year include Microsoft's European Search Technology Centre, Kingfisher Airlines and China Construction Bank.

In the keynote speech where the Mayor opened the London Stand in MIPIM, he reiterated how foreign direct investment contributes more than a quarter to London's economy, generating more than £52 billion each year, with more than half a million people in London working in foreign-owned firms. He praised the continued confidence of foreign companies in the London and UK economy, and told the business leaders present that international investment safeguarded over 11,500 jobs in the capital between April 2008 and March 2009.

Earlier in the day, the Mayor also announced that London has yet again been crowned fDi Magazine's European City of the Future. The capital performed well across the spectrum, excelling in the categories of economic potential, human resources and infrastructure, as well as claiming second position for FDI strategy.

Boris Johnson is determined to ensure that London remains an international, open, diverse, creative, competitive, and socially cohesive city. Having dynamic foreign companies located here plays a big role in this. All mayoral policies are devised with these aims in mind , including the improvement of transport infrastructure, generating business opportunities around the 2012 Games, enhancing the look and feel of the capital with the improvement of public spaces, and supporting and funding a highly skilled labour force.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "The recession has had serious implication on the economy, not least with youth unemployment, but we are beginning to move in the right direction. This research provides a great indicator of international confidence in London. It is simply fantastic news, and testament to our hard work, that foreign direct investment remained resilient throughout the downturn and played a key role in safeguarding jobs.

"We are working extremely hard to maintain and improve the capital's reputation as an open, diverse, cosmopolitan city and international companies continuing to locate here plays a crucial role. I applaud them for their continued confidence and, in turn, will ensure that we continue to set the benchmark as the most successful, sustainable and prosperous world city."

As part of his speech the Mayor was delighted to officially announce that the UK will be the "Country of Honour" at MIPIM 2011. The accolade is in recognition that London and the UK will be hosting the 2012 Games the following year and an acknowledgment of the key role of London and the UK in the real estate landscape, being the source of innovation, professionalism and the internationalization of the sector.

The Mayor also revealed that London is to host a major conference to promote the opportunities for the capital coming from a low carbon economy. Base London will be held on 27 May at ExCel, in conjunction with City Hall, the London Development Agency and event organisers, Base.

More details on the conference including high profile speakers will be published in the coming weeks.

Notes to Editors

The findings of Think London FDI Barometer were compiled independently by Ipsos MORI over a two month period between December 2009 and January 2010. As this is intended to be a long-term research programme Think London will be monitoring how views change over time, and respondents will be contacted again in May and September in order to track the progress of sentiment. Interviews were conducted over the phone and the data is weighed by sector and country of origin.

303 companies participated in the first survey, representing an employment base estimated to be in excess of 100,000 staff across the capital.

London continues to drive FDI into the UK, accounting for some 30% of all foreign direct investment projects into the UK in 2009 according to OCO's FDI Monitor.

The capital has just been crowned the City of the Future for an unprecedented third year in a row by the influential fDi magazine, produced by the FT group. Since 2005 the magazine has ranked regions and cities in Europe, and globally, on a range of criteria with London achieving the top position in the categories of economic potential, human resources and infrastructure, as well as claiming second position for FDI Strategy.

According to fDi Magazine, London's domination in the competition is unsurprising given that the capital has attracted more than one-third more FDI projects over the past five years than any other European city.

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