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City lines up Refinitiv exec for key post-Brexit Brussels job

Nick Collier is to become the City of London Corporation’s key representative in Brussels after Brexit, Sky News learns.

A senior executive at one of the world’s largest financial data businesses has been picked to spearhead the City’s interests in Brussels amid protracted uncertainty about the future of Europe’s biggest financial centre.

Sky News has learnt that Nick Collier, global head of government relations at Refinitiv – until recently part of Thomson Reuters – is to become the City of London Corporation’s Brussels-based managing director.

Mr Collier is expected to take up the role in the new year, less than three months before the UK’s exit from the EU threatens to undermine London’s status as the dominant hub for the continent’s wholesale financial services sector.

A respected industry figure, Mr Collier also serves on the boards of several bodies such as the International Regulatory Strategy Group.

The City of London Corporation has been searching for a heavyweight individual to run a beefed-up operation in Brussels for about a year, conscious that the UK’s influence over EU rules is set to evaporate after Brexit.

Although senior City figures welcomed the cabinet’s decision to endorse Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement last week, there is a newly heightened sense of anxiety about its prospects of parliamentary approval.

There also remains profound concern about how a future trade agreement, with the UK losing the passporting rights that allow firms based in Britain to conduct seamless EU-wide business.

A new model based on close regulatory co-operation and supervision is expected by the financial services sector, with a trade deal covering the industry reported to have been agreed in principle several weeks ago.

Nevertheless, influential figures in the Commission and member states including France and Germany want to take big chunks of lucrative markets such as euroclearing away from London.

Meanwhile, many bosses in the British banking, insurance and asset management sectors believe that the progress of the Brexit negotiations to date risks propelling the UK towards a no-deal departure from the EU.

As part of the strengthening of the City of London Corporation’s Brussels office, its overall headcount is to be increased, according to an internal document seen by Sky News last year.

It stated that the Corporation’s aim was to “put the City in the best possible position to have an ongoing constructive relationship with the EU27”.

The new managing director was expected to work closely with Jeremy Browne, the former Liberal Democrat minister who had been in place as the Corporation’s special representative to the EU since 2015.

However, Mr Browne left his role earlier this year to join Standard Life Aberdeen, the asset manager.

“As the UK‎ leaves the EU, the representational model for the City and UK financial and professional services in Brussels will need to change,” the Corporation document said.

“It is critical that the City delivers a single, coherent message in Brussels as far as possible.

“This will strengthen the UK’s capacity to influence policy-making and promote shared understanding of UK and EU positions on issues affecting financial services.”

In a statement issued to Sky News on Sunday, Refinitiv said it was “actively engaged in the issues that most affect our customers in the interest of ensuring open and efficient financial markets and services”.

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