Weekly Roundup: 16 August 2018

This week's Relocate roundup includes: the most 'liveable city' worldwide, Brexit-related corporate relocations from and within the UK, and good employment news for the city of Detroit, Michigan.

Photograph of the city of Vienna

Vienna finally tops Melbourne as 'most liveable' city

Vienna has replaced Melbourne to top this year's Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index for the first time.The two cities have been vying for the number one spot for several years in the survey of 140 global cities. Melbourne had topped the poll seven times in a row but, this year, the reduced threat of terrorist attacks in western Europe and the Austrian capital's low crime rate saw Vienna win through.Cities are judged on such factors as healthcare, education, infrastructure categories, culture and the environment component, and stability.Osaka, Calgary and Sydney rounded off the top five while Manchester, in 35 the place - a rise of 16 places from last year - was ranked the highest UK city, with London in 48th place. The highest placed US city was Honolulu in 23rd place.Not surprisingly the city that came bottom of the list was, once again, Damascus.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to remain in the UK

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is considering relocating from the City of London...but, unlike other City-based banks, it is not looking to establish a European hub but, rather, moving a couple of miles down the road to Canary Wharf.According to the Financial Times, the bank "looks set to stick with London rather than move staff to the continent. The bank is choosing between remaining in its current City of London headquarters and a move to the capital’s eastern financial district in a potential post-Brexit boost for the UK".The EBRD, established after the fall of the Berlin Wall to bring in external capital to aid central and eastern Europe, now operates as a development bank in more than 30 countries.It is not an EU institution but it has attracted offers from at least 10 European cities to host a part of its workforce as it reviews the location of back-office staff currently based in London. However, it seems to have opted for staying in London, albeit in bigger offices down the road.

European Medicines Agency (EMA) workers refuse Brexit-related move from London to Amsterdam

One of Britain's biggest Brexit losses is the move of the almost 1,000 staff at the European Medicines Agency (EMA) from London to Amsterdam, even though it seems a third of the workers will refuse to relocate - not to mention the fact the building to house the agency in Holland will not be ready in time next year.A further problem has now cropped up with the Canary Wharf Group, which owns the building where the EMA is currently based, launching a legal case against the agency for breaking the terms of the 25-year lease it signed when moving to its Docklands HQ.
The EMA is arguing that it could not have anticipated the Brexit vote and had no option to move after the 'leave' vote.

Detroit, Michigan gains new employer in Chemical Financial Corp

While all the speculation in Europe might be about banks relocating to new homes, a significant move in the US has been announced by Chemical Financial Corp in Michigan, which is moving its headquarters from Midland to Detroit, 71 miles away.The move is seen as a massive boost to Detroit, which has seen an exodus of banks - along with so many other industries - in the past decade or two."Chemical enters a retail banking void in Detroit since Comerica Bank, which traces its Detroit roots back to 1849, moved its headquarters to Dallas, Texas, in 2007, leaving Ally Financial as the only major bank still based in the city," reported the Detroit News."And last month, Wells Fargo Bank said it was exiting retail banking operations in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, selling its 52 locations to Flagstar Bancorp Inc."
Some 500 jobs are expected to be relocated or created as a result of the move.

South African company to relocate two units at the heart of a recent accounting scandal to the UK

Not everyone is running for the hills because of Brexit. Steinhoff International, the South African international retail holding company that is dual listed in Germany, has announced it is relocating two units at the heart of a recent accounting scandal from Austria to the UK.Steinhoff Europe and Steinhoff Finance Holdings will move to Cheltenham in England, where the company’s UK business is based.
Three senior executives have been appointed charged with rescuing the owner of Poundland in the UK and Mattress Firm in the US after its share price collapsed and CEO Markus Jooste quit.It is unclear if the new UK base will result in staff moving from Austria.

UK M&A grew in second quarter 2018

Merger and acquisition activity targeting UK companies grew by 13 per cent in the second quarter, according to a report this week.
The UK retained its position as the go-to destination for M&A in Europe, totalling of 355 deals, far ahead of second-place Germany, on 214 deals, and second only to the United States, which accounted for 1,293.Daniel Domberger, partner at merger specialists Livingstone, commented: “Despite a growing threat of trade wars and other political disruptions, the M&A market remains strong – deal activity has thus far defied the political uncertainty we see at home and abroad."Whilst 2018 has not reached the bumper levels we saw in 2017, UK businesses should take comfort from the fact that we are still very much the go-to destination for international buyers – both in Europe and further afield. It’s particularly encouraging to see a renewal in US interest in the country."The UK’s business services sector was the most popularly targeted sector, accounting for 140 deals, up 20 from the first quarter. The media and technology, and consumer sectors also saw increases, with the former rising from 77 deals to 90, and the latter increasing from 46 to 54.For related news and features, visit our Finance and Brexit sections.
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