Think London targets New York and Beijing

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The Independent Online

Think London, the body set up to promote investment in the capital, is to open its first overseas offices in New York and Beijing this spring.

The move is part of a strenthening of Think London's activities and is a reaction to the increased competition for foreign direct investment, which has seen the UK losing out to the likes of Ireland, India and Eastern Europe over recent years.

Michael Charlton, the head of Think London, said that rivals are infringing on traditional areas where the UK has led the world, such as financial services, pharmaceuticals research and creative industries.

"In the past London was flavour of the month, but many of the investments that would have naturally chosen London are now contestable," he said.

The New York office is due to open in March. US companies have long been the largest investors in the UK and Think London feels it needs to get to them earlier in the decision-making process to win deals.

The Beijing bureau is to be run jointly with the Mayor of London's office and will be opened by the Major, Ken Livingstone, when he visits the Chinese capital in April.

Opening in Beijing will enable Think London to see how the Chinese are using the 2008 Olympics to stimulate investment and how having the 2012 games in London could help the capital.

Think London is jointly funded by the Mayor's Office and London First, a lobby group backed by 300 businesses based in the capital.