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London could lose place as world's business capital, Boris is warned

PUBLISHED: 13:00 19 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:05 05 October 2010

LONDON could be at risk of losing its edge as world business' capital, City Hall has been warned. Safeguarding financial services and nurturing its creative and legal industries are vital to keep its number one position, according to a report by captains of industry'

By Mike Brooke

LONDON could be at risk of losing its edge as 'world business' capital, City Hall has been warned.

Safeguarding financial services and nurturing its creative and legal industries are vital to keep its number one position, according to a report by London's 'captains of industry.'

The warning has been sounded by BT chief Ian Livingston and Royal Academy chairman Richard Sharp who were commissioned by the Mayor in April to look into London's competitiveness.

Richard Sharp said: "We must be careful we don't send out a message that we are turning against business and wealth creation, and closing our doors to the outside world."

Their report was presented to the Mayor's International Business Advisory Council's annual meeting at City Hall on Friday.

Mayor Boris Johnson told the meeting he was "under no illusion" about the threats to London's global dominance.

He pledged: "I will lobby whoever it takes to remove the obstacles putting London's reputation at risk. We must ensure we don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg."

Around 50 business leaders were interviewed for the 'doom' report, which highlighted how punishing measures such as 50 per cent income tax rise and business levies were forcing companies to quit London and head abroad.

Threats came from rival financial centres like Geneva and Shanghai offering more favourable tax advantages, as well as EU legislation on the financial industry such as working time directives and reputation damage due to London's close links with the global financial crisis.

A key recommendation at the meeting was to set up a 'competitive' unit to boost the Mayor's lobbying and protect London's commercial interests, concentrating on campaigns on taxation.

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