Lloyd's of London chief rounds on City's critics

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The Independent Online

The chairman of Lloyd's of London last night hit back at critics of Britain's beleaguered financial sector and warned politicians risked doing "irreparable damage to one of the strongest sectors of our economy".

Speaking at the Lloyd's City Dinner, Lord Levene, a former vice chairman of Deutsche Bank, said: "I am proud to work in the UK financial services industry. And I am proud to be a part of the City of London. Why? Because financial services are something at which we British excel. Why do so many of the brightest people from around the world come to work in the City.

"Why do corporations, institutions and governments around the world bring their money and their business here? Because we offer something unique – an unrivalled mix of skills, good regulation, a dynamic environment and a proven ability to adapt and evolve. In short, the City is a world-class place to do business."

Lord Levene said he accepted that "some parts of the banking industry have behaved irresponsibly". But he added: "This has been a global, not just a British, phenomenon – and it involves only a part of the financial industry.

"It is certainly not a reason for politicians and policymakers to start undermining the UK financial sector, which is one of this country's great national assets."

He continued: "It is nonsensical for politicians and others to suggest that the UK financial sector is somehow 'too big' for the UK economy when much of the business conducted in the City is international business, servicing international clients.

"It has no bearing on the UK economy except – and this is absolutely crucial – that much of the value added remains in this country."

Lord Levene, who is also a former Lord Mayor of London, said the banking industry could learn from the experience of Lloyd's which nearly collapsed 20 years ago and offloaded most of its toxic assets into a separate vehicle, Equitas.