YORKSHIRE is continuing to offer great opportunities for overseas investors, despite the uncertainty over Brexit, according to the president of a global legal network.
João Paulo Menezes Falcão of Interlegal said the positive mood of business people in Leeds and its surrounding districts was on a par with the mood of their counterparts in London.
He made the comments as he led a delegation of representatives from the Interlegal network, who attended meetings with business representatives in Yorkshire as part of a fact-finding tour
Mr Menezes Falcão, who is from Portugal, told The Yorkshire Post: “I was (last) here 10 years ago, and I’ve felt a huge difference. Leeds is completely different.
“It’s much more developed. I was in London on Monday and I think it’s almost the same. The mood of the city is very similar.
“I’m sure that every one of the Interlegal members, when they get back home, will convey to their clients and colleagues, the huge potential that we have here, to bring (in) investment and tourism, because this is a very interesting region.
“Yesterday, we visited the countryside and a brewery. It was astonishing. There’s the right mix between the potential for investment and also for leisure. It’s a great area.
He added: “Brexit, of-course, is upsetting, not only for those who voted against here in the UK.
“Foreign investors are not very sure of the consequences. When an investor is not certain of a..scenario in the future, it’s not a good environment to invest.
“In the near future, the situation will be clear. The potential of the region will persist, and investment will continue to come to this region.
“Even now, even during this period, I’m sure that people don’t care because, independent of the outcome of the negotiations, I’m sure the UK will continue to be huge country to invest (in) for Europeans and people outside Europe.”
Around 70 representatives from countries including Brazil, Russia, Canada and Cote d’Ivoire were hosted by the law firm Shulmans in Leeds, on behalf of Interlegal.
The network, which included new members from Japan, Israel, Sweden and Turkey, met at Leeds Civic Hall to discuss how to collaborate effectively as international businesses.
The event started with the delegates listening to high profile speakers including Tom Riordan, the chief executive of Leeds City Council, Roger Marsh, the chairman of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and Andrew Cooper, the chief executive of LeedsBID (business improvement district).
In his speech, Mr Cooper told the delegation that Leeds’s economy is set to grow by 12.8 per cent in the next 10 years. He said there were more than 4,500 businesses in the city centre alone.
He added: “Leeds is benefitting from a number of high growth industries including health care and medical technologies, edtech and game development.
“Leeds has expanded its financial sector substantially in recent years, with the city’s total output from finance and insurance increasing by 40 per cent between 2012 and 2015.”
Speaking afterwards, Jeremy Shulman, the founder and senior partner of Shulmans, said, “Leeds is a great city and this is a real opportunity to put it centre stage at a time when it is more important than ever to consider our place in the world.
“Interlegal is a network consisting of exceptional legal professionals from across the globe and we are proud to have been able to host this year’s meeting, following other successful meetings in world cities such as Barcelona and New York.
He added: “It has allowed us to share our knowledge and views, so that we can continue to offer the best advice to those companies considering conducting their business on an international basis.”
Members of the Interlegal network attended question and answer sessions which analysed ways of building better global alliances.
The delegation considered the business, cultural and socio-political aspects and appeal of cities, such as Leeds and the benefits of working with hubs outside London.
Members also discussed the development of international legal policy, after Brexit.
Delegates visited the Yorkshire Dales, as well as enjoying Leeds’ finest restaurants.
Next year’s Interlegal meeting will be held in Moscow in May.